Figures for income tax returns (ITR) e-filed during the financial year 2018-19 as compared to 2017-18 are not comparable, the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) said on May 6 in a press release.
CBDT clarified that during FY 2017-18, out of a total of 6.74 crore ITRs which were e-filed, 5.47 crore ITRs were filed for AY 2017-18. In comparison, during FY 2018-19, a total of 6.68 crore ITRs were e-filed, which included 6.49 crore ITRs of AY 2018-19.
During financial year (FY) 2017-18, out of a total of 6.74 crore ITRs which were e-filed, 5.47 crore ITRs were filed for assessment year (AY) 2017-18, the current year, CBDT said.
CBDT's statement comes in the middle of media reports pertaining to reduction in numbers of ITRs e-filed during FY 2018-19 as compared to FY 2017-18.
"This is factually untrue because the figures for FY 2017-18 and FY 2018-19 are not directly comparable," the statement said.
During FY 2018-19, a total of 6.68 crore ITRs were e-filed which included 6.49 crore ITRs of current AY 2018-19, marking an increase of almost 19%, implying that substantially larger number of taxpayers filed their ITRs electronically in the FY 2018-19 as compared to FY 2017-18.
CBDT said during FY 2017-18, apart from the returns for the AY 2017-18, nearly 1.21 crore ITRs were filed for AY 2016-17.
The balance number of ITRs filed for A.Y. 2015-16 and prior AYs is 0.06 crore. In comparison, during F.Y. 2018-19 only 0.14 crore ITRs for AY 2017-18 were filed.
Thus, the apparent decrease in the number of ITRs filed during FY 2018-19 pertaining to earlier years was due to an amendment in Section 139(5) of the Income-Tax Act, 1961 brought via Finance Act, 2017, effective April 2018, which mandated that a revised return could be furnished only upto the end of the relevant assessment year.
As a result, only 0.14 crore ITRs pertaining to AY 2017-18 were filed during FY 2018-19 as these were the revised ITRs for the relevant AY which could only be filed due to change in law and no other ITR of any earlier AY could be filed in view of the amended provisions of law.
"As per the above details, it is evident that most of the taxpayers have steadily switched to e-filing which is clear from the dwindling numbers of paper returns filed for A.Y. 2018-19 compared to earlier years," the release said.