If you haven’t filed you tax returns till now, you don’t have to panic, as the government has extended various timelines for doing so. The income tax return (ITR) for Assessment Year 2020-21 was to be filed by December 31 for various assessees. On account of the disruption due to the COVID-19 pandemic, deadlines have been extended.
"In view of the continued challenges faced by taxpayers in meeting statutory compliances due to outbreak of COVID-19, the Government further extends the dates for various compliances," the finance ministry said in a tweet. It is to be noted here that chartered accountants have been demanding extension of the deadlines.
As per the press release issued by the Department of Revenue in the finance ministry, for individual taxpayers, who are not required to get their accounts audited, the last date for filing ITR has now been extended to January 10, 2021. For those facing technical glitches and are desperately getting their paperwork in order, the extension comes as a relief. But it is always advisable not to wait for the last moment for filing your returns.
Similarly, the due date for furnishing of ITR for the taxpayers (including their partners) who are required to get their accounts audited and companies has been extended to February 15, 2021.
The due date for furnishing of ITR for the taxpayers who are required to furnish reports in respect of international/specified domestic transactions will also have time till February 15, 2021 to file their ITR.
The date for furnishing of various audit reports including tax audit report and report in respect of international/specified domestic transaction was January 15, 2021.
The due date for payment of self-assessment tax for taxpayers whose self-assessment tax liability is up to Rs 1 lakh has been extended to February 15, 2021 for the taxpayers (who are required to their accounts audited or furnish returns in respect of international or specified transactions) and January 10, 2021 for other taxpayers.
In respect of the Vivad Se Vishwas Scheme, the last date for making a declaration has been extended to January 31, 2021 from December 31, 2020. Also, the date for passing of orders under the scheme, which are required to be passed by January 30, 2021 has been extended to January 31, 2021.
Also, the date for passing of order or issuance of notice by the authorities under the Direct Taxes & Benami Acts which are required to be passed/ issued/ made by March 30, 2021 has been extended to March 31, 2021.
Struggle with compliance
Shailesh Kumar, Partner, Nangia & Co LLP, says that the suspense around extension of due dates for filing ITRs for non-corporate, non-auditable taxpayers and for filing Audit reports under Income tax provisions has finally ended on the penultimate day, giving marginal relief to taxpayers, still struggling to comply with the timeline. The last minute extension has ensured that maximum ITRs/ Audit reports are already filed, while only the last minute filers are given some additional time for filing.
"You must note that the interest clock continues and taxpayers waiting to file as per further extended timeline will need to pay additional one month’s interest (except small taxpayers having self-assessment tax liability up to Rs 1 lakh). Thus, if everything is final, taxpayers should go ahead with filing, instead of availing the extended period," Kumar suggests.
Commenting on the extension of the deadlines, Suresh Surana, Founder, RSM India, says taxpayers have been facing problems while verification of their tax returns. The e-verification option includes revalidation through Aadhaar-based mobile number, wherein the OTP is shared.
"It is practically seen that the OTP is not received on the Aadhaar registered mobile number, resulting in the income tax return not being verified. It seems that the Income Tax Department has taken cognisance of this aspect and they have flashed an alert on December 29, 2020 on the income tax portal, wherein they are advising the taxpayer to e-verify the return subsequently through alternative modes," he says.
When asked if there is a tendency among taxpayers to delay return filing till the last minute, he says it would not be appropriate to state that there is a tendency to delay the filing as in many cases they face certain issues such as delay in receipt of Form 16 or Form 26AS not being updated (due to delay in deposit of taxes by the deductor), limited awareness in many cases of the due dates.
"However, the culture of tax compliances is getting strengthened with more returns being filed on a year-on-year basis. This is an exceptional year and practically there is an anticipated delay from the taxpayers in filing their tax returns," Surana opines.
Use the extension period to file your returns, if you haven’t done yet, to avoid unnecessary penalty and other consequences.