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All Gujarat Federation of Tax Consultants vs. CBDT (Gujarat High Court)
September, 29th 2014

Strictures passed against the CBDT for seeking to take advantage of its own wrong and disregarding genuine hardship of taxpayers. Due date for filing ROI extended to 30.11.2014 subject to charge of s. 234A interest

The Petitioner filed a Writ Petition claiming that the action of the CBDT/ Government in issuing Notification dated 25.07.2014 to exercise the due date for filing the tax audit report u/s 44 AB but in not extending the due date for filing Income Tax Returns from 30.09.2014 to 30.11.2014 was arbitrary. It was pointed out that great prejudice was being caused to the taxpayers by the said action of the CBDT. HELD by the High Court:

(i) We are not impressed by the stand taken by the Revenue urging inter alia that the format of the tax audit report nowhere requires certification of the Tax Consultants or Tax Auditors in relation to the information to be furnished for which Tax Audit is conducted …. Though the filing of the return of income is the responsibility of the tax payer, that in no manner would make the Tax Auditors and the Consultants who are professionals any less concerned for correct computation of the income and true presentation of entire material before the Tax authorities;

(ii) The change of utility and non-availability of the new version till 20.08.2014 is the cause for the issue to have cropped up. The assesses cannot be put to the hardship nor can the professionals be made to rush only because the department chose to change the utility during the mid-year;

(iii) One of the main objectives of the computerization programme is to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the tax administration. If the very computerization has caused genuine hardship to one and all concerned, CBDT ought to have paid heed to the repeated requests of all concerned in exercise of its statutory powers;

(iv) It would have been desirable for the CBDT to have considered the request for extension of the due date as a very peculiar situation has arisen portraying the genuine hardship to the assessee and the tax consultants;

(v) Non-collection of tax for a period of two months and possible loss of Rs.220 crore in terms of interest for a period of two months in the event the self-assessed tax not paid, appear clearly as the reasons in the foundation for CBDT to deny such extension. The Revenue cannot be permitted to take advantage of its own error or delay, by putting forth magnified figures of loss and thereby also possibly in the process gaining interest for late filing of return in complete disregard to requirement of efficient management;

(vi) The CBDT ought to have responded to the representation. Instead, it chose not to respond but later before this Court in no uncertain terms has termed such a request impermissible on the ground that the grievances are not sustainable. Therefore, considering the larger cause of public good and keeping in mind the requirement of promotion of justice, we chose to exercise the writ of mandamus directing the CBDT to extend the date of filing of return of income to 30.11.2014, which is due date for filing of the TAR as per the Notification dated 20.08.2014. Such extension is granted with the qualification that the same may not result into non-charging of interest u/s 234A.

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