Income Tax Return Filing

Income Tax Return Filing: The due date to file income tax returns is July 31. However, various stakeholders are demanding an extension, citing delays in getting documents needed to reconcile figures.

Twitter was abuzz over the weekend. Individuals, chartered accountants, and CA associations were clamoring for an extension of the July 31 income tax return filing deadline. #Extend_due_date_immediately was among the trending hashtags.

the government was not planning to extend the last date for ITR filing. Penalties and penal interest await those who miss the current July 31 deadline.

On July 23, the All India Federation of Tax Practitioners (AIFTPs), an association of advocates, chartered accountants, and tax practitioners, shared a representation with the finance ministry and the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), seeking an extension. The association demanded a month’s extension for cases where an audit is not required.

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AIFTP, which was established in 1976, claims to be one of the largest professional bodies of tax practitioners comprising tax professionals, advocates, and chartered accountants. Moneycontrol has reviewed a copy of the letter.

Moneycontrol spoke to a cross-section of chartered accountants to understand if the demands are justified.

Form delays

Various documents are needed to file returns, in the absence of which it would be difficult.

“This year, there have been significant challenges in downloading Form 16 from the TRACES website. Hence, while the forms need to be issued to employees by June 15, employers have been issuing these as late as the first week of July. Additionally, some of the mutual funds and bankers have been updating their tax withholding returns till July and hence the 26AS/AIS (annual information statement) also gets updated. Hence, the taxpayers need to have these reconciled with their details,” said Aarti Raote, a partner at Deloitte India.

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Besides Form-16 and Form, 26 AS more documents are essential.

“In specific cases e.g., taxpayers need to obtain the tax residency certificate from overseas jurisdictions or proof of foreign taxes paid to claim treaty relief,” said Kuldip Kumar, a partner at Vialto Partners India.

According to AIFTP, more taxpayers are covered by tax deducted at source (TDS) norms and now need to reconcile their income with Form 26 before filing their returns.

“In earlier years, not many persons were covered under the ambit of TDS/TCS provisions. However, with the introduction of new sections such as 194Q, 194-O, 194N, 194M, 206C(1H), 206C(1G), etc., there is a huge increase in the number of persons who are covered under the provisions of TDS and have to wait for their TDS credit to get reflected in Form No. 26AS,” AIFTP wrote in its letter.

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Small window

Although the financial year ends on March 31, people are still waiting for documents that provide details of their income and expenses before they can file their income tax returns.

Form 16 (given by employers), AIS (annual information statement), and Taxpayer Information Summary (TIS) come out by mid-June, and only after that can taxpayers get to know their tax liabilities.

“Taxpayers get merely 1.5 months to reconcile Form 26AS, AIS, and TIS before they can file their returns,” said Kumar. “Several developed countries like the UK and the US give six to 10 months to file returns post close of the year.”

Tax experts said the government should reconsider the period allowed to file returns.

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“The tax department may consider giving more time to a taxpayer to complete and file the tax return; to gather data, cross-verify AIS data, ensure accurate and complete detailed reporting as per the prescribed tax return forms,” said Sonu Iyer, partner, and national leader, people advisory services, at EY India.

While the government has taken steps like providing pre-filled ITR forms to reduce the burden for people, various tax-related compliance norms have also increased. Iyer pointed out that choosing between the new and old tax regimes takes time when tax-filers and CAs have to assess AIS, Form 16s, and so on.

“Professionals are also overwhelmed with competing timelines for GST filings,” added Iyer.

The low number of returns

The number of tax returns filed so far has been low compared to the previous few years – about 20 million out of 100 million registered users.

In its representation, AIFTP said that until July 23, only about 19.9 million had been filed on the income tax portal compared with 66.3 million ITRs a year earlier. That leaves about 45 million ITRs left to be filed by July 31.

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Technical glitches

Given a large number of returns yet to be filed, there will be pressure on the e-filing portal to handle traffic, which can result in malfunctions and glitches.

The income tax department itself tweeted about this on June 2, saying, “It has been noticed that taxpayers are facing issues in accessing the ITD e-filing portal ( As informed by @Infosys, they have observed some irregular traffic on the portal for which proactive measures are being taken. Some users may be inconvenienced, which is regretted.”

AIFTP said that the issues are still there.

“We have to further state that even the income tax portal is not functioning properly. Even today on 23.07.2022, many people are facing problems in viewing/downloading Form No. 26AS, which has been reported by many people on social media as well,” AIFTP wrote.

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Act of god

Some factors beyond human control have also been cited to justify the extension of the deadline.

“The heavy monsoons in some states and the intermittent impact of Covid are some other challenges that people are facing. Hence, it’s best to ease the pressure on the taxpayers and grant a short extension of one month for tax filing,” said Raote.

Although Covid-19 is no longer as disruptive as it was in the past, tax experts said the after-effects still linger.

The Indian government has done a splendid job of supporting businesses and accommodating the compliance cycle by providing extensions of filing deadlines in the past few years. We are now coming out of that situation and behavioral change takes a little time, particularly when for the last two years extensions were for a significantly longer time,” Kumar said, talking about tax-filers having to adjust to normalcy.

Moneycontrol’s take

While most experts believe there is a need for more time and that the government should consider the demand to extend the ITR filing deadline, Moneycontrol suggests you file your tax returns at the earliest.

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