Filing Of Income Tax Returns

While talking to my acquaintances around me I gather an impression that majority of the salaried people feel that they are not required to file their income tax returns as tax is already deducted from their salaries. This is not correct legal position. Payment of taxes and filing of income tax return are two separate obligations. There is another misconception that if I miss the deadline of 31st July, I cannot file my return later on as the deadline is sacrosanct and a now or never thing.
 
In this article I will explain the legal position concerning individual tax payers as regards requirement of filing the income tax return.
 
Do I need to file my income tax return?
Income tax filing and payment of income tax payment are two different obligations. it is better to file income tax before due date as it saves you from possible penal actions and allows you to make the most of provisions of Income Tax Act.
 
Who is required to file the IT returns?
So to start with, you are required to file your income tax return if your gross total income is more than the basic exemption limit. For the year ended 31st March 2015 this is Rs. 2.5 lakhs for an ordinary individual, Rs. 3 lakhs for an individual over 60 years and Rs. 5 lakhs for an Individual above 80 years.
 
The word gross total income is not the same as the income on which your tax liability is calculated. Gross total income is the income calculated before any deduction under Sections like 80 C, 80 CCC, 80 CCD, 80 CCG, 80D, 80E, 80EE, 80G and 80 GGA and 80 TTA is availed. The deductions cover various items like contribution towards PF, NPS and PPF, payment of School fee for your children, premium for your life and health insurance. This also covers purchase of NSC, home loan repayment, rent paid etc. as well as interest on saving bank account.
 
So even if you may not have any tax liability after availing above deductions, you still need to file your tax return in case your gross total income before such deductions exceeds the amount of basic exemption applicable in your case. You need to file return in case you own any asset outside India or you are an authorized signatory for any account located outside India . This becomes applicable to those of you, without you noticing it, who had gone outside India on deputation or employment and had opened a bank account and did not close the bank account.
 
If you have any investments like shares, bonds or mutual fund units of foreign companies, you also are required to file return irrespective of your income level for the year. So in case you have received shares of a foreign company as ESOP as part of your compensation package, you are covered under this provision and file the return.
 
What is the last date for filing of my income tax return?
In case you are required to file return as discussed, the due date is July 31. The due date is applicable generally in case of individual tax payers. However in case you are carrying on a business and your accounts are required to be audited, the due date gets extended till 30th September. Even for the people who are working partners in partnership firms, whose accounts are audited, the due date is 30th September.
 
What happens if you miss the deadline?
In case you file your current income tax return after due date i.e. 31st July, 2015 you will not be able to revise your income tax return in case any omission or error is detected. You also will have to pay penal interest on the amount of tax for the period of delay in case any tax is still payable. Another consequence of missing the deadline would be that, in case you have business loss or capital gains loss in the current year, you will not be able to carry it forward to be set of in subsequent years.
 
Do I pay any penalty if you do not file the return by due date?
There is no penalty if you fail to file your return by 31st July, 2015 and file the same byMarch 31, 2016. However if your income is taxable and you fail to file your return of income by March 31, 2016, the same can be filed only by 31st March 2017. However in such a situation the income tax officer can levy a penalty of Rs. 5,000 after giving you an opportunity to explain your case. So from the above discussion it becomes clear that even if you do not have any tax liability or appropriate taxes have been deducted from your income, you are still required to file your return. Moreover it is better to file the return by the due date to avoid any complication later on.
By Balwant Jain is a CA, CS and CFP.
Presently working as Company Secretary of Bombay Oxygen Corporation.
He can be reached at jainbalwant@gmail.com
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