The New Time Lines for Filing Tax Returns and Revising Them

“You can still file tax returns”

“Delayed returns can be filed up to two years”

“Returns without paying penalty accepted up to March 31”

  • Have such news items been leading you to believe that the tax filing deadline of July 31 is not written in stone. Well, there is reason enough for you to adhere to the time line for filing returns notified by the Income Tax Department.
  • Though one is permitted to file delayed returns for reasons beyond ones’ control. However, the deadlines for delayed returns have been shrunk as per the Union Budget 2016, as passed by the Parliament recently.
  • Until April 1, 2016, if a person didn’t submit a return within the deadline (usually July 31 following the year in which income was earned) he/she could furnish the return anytime before the expiry of one year from the end of the relevant assessment year or before assessment is completed, whichever is earlier.
  • So, for instance if you couldn’t submit the return for the income you earned between April 1, 2014 and March 31, 2015, by the deadline August 31, 2015, then you could have done so till March 31, 2017. This provision allowed you nearly two years after earning the income to file returns.
  • Starting this financial year, the new provision applies, which states, “It is proposed to provide that any person who has not furnished a return within the time allowed u/s 139(1) may furnish the return at any time before the end of the relevant assessment year or before the completion of the assessment, whichever is earlier.”
  • Considering the scenario to be same as elucidated before, you would now have to file the delayed returns before March 31, 2018, for the income earned between April 2016 and March 31, 2017. One straight year has been wiped off the delayed return filing deadline. This rule is applicable from FY 2016-17.
  • But there is one thing to cheer about. If you filed returns post the original deadline of July 31, then you couldn’t revise the return. As per the new provisions, delayed or belated returns too can be revised up to one year from the end of the assessment year or until the returns have been assessed, whichever is earlier.
  • Also, hitherto, a tax-return would be termed as defective if the self-assessment tax along with the interest wasn’t paid on or before submitting the return. This clause has now been removed. However, don’t be under the impression that you can file returns without paying taxes. This is a modification made just because one cannot file returns online, if your tax is unpaid.
  • So, for the Assessment Year 2016-17, if you already have your Form 16 in hand and the details of bank tax deduction at source, then one shouldn’t wait until the fag end of July to file the returns. The Income Tax Return forms too have been notified and one can accomplish the process early and relish the fruits of timely refund payments too, thereby saving on interest and penalty on taxes yet to be paid.

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