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The penalties and exclusions for late filing of I-T returns
September, 03rd 2012

Have you missed the deadline for filing tax return again? Oh, yes! The last date to file your income tax return, or ITR, was August 31. However, you don't have to panic. You still have time till July 31, 2014 to file your ITR, both online as well as offline.

"For the financial year 2011-12, an individual with a total income of up to Rs 10 lakh can file income tax return offline by March 31, 2014, and an individual having total income of more than Rs 10 lakh can file his/her return online by March 31, 2014," says Sonu Iyer, tax partner and national leader, human capital mobility services, at Ernst & Young.

However, you should know the consequences of such late filing of return. First, you cannot revise your ITR. Second, you cannot carry forward losses. And third, you have to pay a penal interest of 1 per cent per month on your outstanding tax liability. Also, remember that you cannot file the ITR for the financial year 2011-12 beyond March 2014, even if you are willing to pay the penalty.

You cannot revise ITR

A return filed after the due date is considered as a belated tax return. Under the law, a belated tax return cannot be revised. However, there may be some details which are not available till the due date. "In such a case, the Act allows filing of a 'belated return' within one year from the end of the assessment year or completion of assessment, whichever is earlier. However, you have to forgo the right to carry forward your losses or revise the return," says Vineet Agarwal, director, KPMG.

You can't carry forward losses

The loss under the head 'Profits and gains of business or profession' (other than depreciation loss) cannot be carried forward if the return is filed late. "However, one can still set off the losses against the income (other than income under the head salary) under other heads of the same year," says Vaibhav Sankla, director, H&R Block India. This also applies to any short-term or long-term capital loss from sale of shares. "It can be carried forward and set off against capital gains / business profits which may arise in the next eight years. However, if the tax return is not filed within the due date of August 31, 2012, the above benefit is not available," cautions Sonu Iyer.

Moreover, in case you want to claim foreign tax credit based on foreign tax return received later, you will not be able to do so if the original tax return is filed after the due date.

Penalty on outstanding taxes

You must pay a simple interest at 1 per cent per month on the outstanding tax liability up to the date of payment of the tax. "Apart from interest, which is levied under various sections of the Income-Tax Act, 1961 ('Act'), interest is also levied if the tax return is not filed within the due date. As per Section 234A of the Act, an interest is levied at 1 per cent per month from the due date of filing the return to the actual date of filing on the tax payable, subject to certain conditions," says Vineet Agarwal.

If you realise you have to pay additional taxes as a result of the error, you can pay off the tax without filing the revised return. Subsequently, you can even follow this up with a letter to the jurisdictional tax officer. This way you can avoid additional income tax liability on account of interest/penalty should the tax department later demand the outstanding taxes.

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