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Income-tax officers had no authority to
August, 10th 2006
I-T return valid even if Form 16 is not enclosed -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Clarifications Income-tax officers have no authority to refuse acceptance of any communication once it is addressed to the officer having jurisdiction Section 139 (9) empowers tax authorities to declare a return invalid, but only after an unqualified acceptance initially -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Many taxpayers and even income-tax officers believe that return of income is to be filed only when there is some tax payable. But the law, as it stands today, does not support this, says Mr D.K. Das, the Chief Commissioner of Income Tax, Kolkata-I. According to him, it was mandatory on the part of anyone whose gross total income exceeds Rs 1 lakh to file a return, even where there may not be any tax payable after allowance of deductions and exemptions. He has also clarified that a salaried return (in the case of a salaried assessee) does not become defective merely because Form-16 has not been enclosed or that it does not contain the office seal and/or the signature of the issuing authority. "These may be relevant for allowing credit for TDS, but does not invalidate the return." Clarificatory note In a recent, far-reaching clarificatory note to all Commissioners under his charge, including the Addl/JCIT, Port Blair, I-T Bar Association and tax bodies concerned, Mr Das has pointed out that income-tax officers had no authority to "refuse acceptance of any communication in general and a return of income in particular, once it is addressed to the officer having jurisdiction." He has set all doubts at rest by clarifying that there was no question of refusing a return on the ground that "no tax whatsoever has been paid or is payable on the basis of the same, the concept of `non-est' Return stipulated in sub section (10) of section 139 having been taken off the statute." And with regard to acknowledgement of returns, or letters, petitions etc to the department, he has issued clear instructions down the line that departmental receipt must invariably contain office seal/signature of the receiving official and date of receipt. He has made the Range Supervisors responsible for strictly enforcing the instructions, and also accountable in matters of dispute as regards irregular receipts and interpolation in record. According to Mr Das, section 139 (9) empowers tax authorities to declare a return invalid, but only after an "ungrudging and unqualified acceptance initially". He opined that there was absolutely no warrant or authority for examining the completeness or validity of a Return at the receiving counter itself. He described the process of submission of return of income in post offices as the first step towards introduction of "jurisdiction-less filing of return of income". He said when the department was now moving towards jurisdiction-less filing, "it is thoroughly undesirable that any return shall be refused on ground of assessee's failure in enclosing evidence of filing of preceding year's return". Mohan Padmanabhan
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