The letter states that Mumbai's TDS building has been taken over by Municipal Corporation to set up a healthcare facility as the number of COVID-19 infections rises sharply.
Income-tax department officials have asked the government to extend the statutory March 31 deadline to complete important tax-related work including FRSR, DP and court matters in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.
The officials who have sent written requests include principal chief commissioner of Mumbai, chief commissioner administration and taxpayers service of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, Chandigarh, UP west, Uttrakhand and Kanpur.
Moneycontrol has reviewed copies of these letters.
In his letter to the chairman of Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), Mumbai Principal Chief Commissioner Satish Gupta stated: "In the city of Mumbai, suburban local trains have been stopped. More than 90 percent of the officers commute to office by local trains and a stoppage of this service has meant there is no staff or officer is able to come to office".
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"It is requested that steps may be initiated to extend the time-barring date of March 31 including the processing of return in under section 143 (1), time barring penalties, revised and late filing under section 139, reopening of assessment under 148 and time barring set-aside assessments and any other time barring actions which may get barred by limitations on March 31st," Gupta wrote.He further requested for similar action for Vivaad se Vishwas Act and Black Money Act. In Vivaad se Vishwas Act, one has to pay 10 percent extra if it is filed after March 31.
The letter from the officials noted that Mumbai's TDS (tax deducted at source) building has been taken over by Municipal Corporation to set up a healthcare facility as the number of COVID-19 infections has risen sharply.
Mumbai circle is crucial for the department as the highest collection of tax, approximately 33 percent, is from there.
The tax officials supported the letter and requested other circles also to write similar letters. A source told Moneycontrol: "We are working in fear due to this COVID-19. We come into contact with so many people during the assessment process. The government should think about extending the deadline especially since we don't come under the definition of essential services."
A similar letter has been written by Peeyush Sonkar, Commissioner of Income Tax, Administration and Tax Payers Services, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. Sonkar mentioned in his letter: "Only essential services are allowed in the state and so it is difficult for officers to reach offices. So, I am directed to suggest that the time barring dates may be extended as it will not be possible to comply in view of the complete lockdown".
CP Pathak, commissioner of Income Tax, Administration and TPS, UP (West) and Uttrakhand Region, Kanpur, said in the letter: "State government has suspended all the services barring those involved in essential services and they have not included income tax department in essential services."
The Commissioner of Income tax (Administration and TPS) Chandigarh, in the letter, stated that "As the official work is done on Income Tax Business Application (ITBA) system which can only be accessed from the internal network at office, it may be difficult for officers and staff to discharge their responsibilities". This circle includes state of Punjab, Haryana and Union Territory Chandigarh.
A source in the ministry told Moneycontrol: "The Finance Ministry is considering an extension of the deadline for income tax return. But it is a crucial decision which impacts the country’s financial health as we are going through a tough phase."The government is expected to announce an extension of the deadline on March 24.