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Questions on I-T returns
July, 28th 2007

Worried about the consequences of not filing your income-tax (I-T) return by July 31? If yes, here is a quick Q&A, with inputs from Mr V.K. Subramani, an Erode-based chartered accountant.

First, what are the due dates?

Assessees having income from salary have to file return of income before July 31 of the assessment year. This is the due date prescribed in Section 139(1) of the Income-Tax Act, 1961.

Self-employed businessmen and professionals, and those deriving income from let-out property too have to file their returns by this date. However, businessmen and professionals with aggregate turnover/annual receipt exceeding Rs 40 lakh (in the case of business) and Rs 10 lakh (in the case of profession) have time up to October 31 for filing their return of income.

Do those with nil tax liability have anything to fear?

Where the return is filed beyond the due date, the taxpayer has to pay interest, if any, on tax liability existing beyond tax deducted at source (TDS) or tax collected at source (TCS) or the advance tax paid.

The question of interest does not arise where tax due for payment is nil, as would be in the case of most salaried people who pay their taxes through the TDS route. Legally, a taxpayer can file his return before the end of the assessment year without any penalty (however with penal interest under Section 234A).

Again, the question of penal interest does not arise in the nil cases discussed above. For the assessment year 2007-08, return of income could be filed up to March 31, 2008.

How costly can delay in filing I-T return be?

Apart from interest and penal interest, there are other implications. If the return is filed after March 31, 2008, but before March 31, 2009, the AO (assessing officer) can levy a penalty of Rs 5,000 under Section 271F.

Even when there is no further tax payable on the income admitted, penalty under Section 271F is leviable for the delay. If the return is filed after March 31, 2009, then such return would become an invalid return.

Are there any benefits in filing by the due date?

An assessee filing return by the due date provided in the statute is eligible to file a revised return if he discovers any omission or wrong statement therein. Time limit for filing revised return is one year from the end of the assessment year or before completion of assessment. No penalty would be levied for filing a revised return on voluntary basis.

So, by filing late, does one lose the revision option?

Yes. If an assessee does not file his return within the due date and files his return subsequently, he cannot have the benefit of revising the return, as the return filed beyond the due date is treated as belated return.


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