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Wilful Defaulters Beware! Not Filing I-T Returns May Land You In Prison

Author: AN Shanbhag Sandeep Shanbhag/Wednesday, October 31, 2018/Categories: Tax, Expert View

Wilful Defaulters Beware! Not Filing I-T Returns May Land You In Prison

As citizens of India, our responsibility towards the country does not end with paying taxes. We have to file income tax returns (ITR) every year for which the government allows us four months from April 1 to July 31. To crackdown on stragglers, the government has introduced penalties on late and failure to file ITR. Let’s discuss in details.

Penalties: Sec. 276CC

Wilful failure to furnish ITR during the prescribed time resulting in tax evasion exceeding Rs 1 lakh attracts a fine and imprisonment that can be from 6 months to 7 years. In other cases, it could be a fine and imprisonment of 3 months to 3 years.

However, a penalty cannot be levied unless there is substantial evidence of wilful failure. As the provisions of the Income Tax Act are amended frequently, it is impossible even for tax experts to know all the provisions at any given point of time. Hence, ignorance of law is often cited as an excuse to escape the penalty.

From April 1, 2018, the government introduced a fine of Rs 10,000 for those who fail to file the ITR by July 31. If you file ITR after the due date but before December 31, the penalty will be Rs 5,000. Small taxpayers with income not more than Rs 5 lakh per annum will not be penalised more than Rs 1,000.

Scrutiny Assessment

As a relief to senior citizens, the department has decided not to scrutinise any returns filed by those above the age of 60 years and those whose gross total income is less than Rs 10 lakh.

Annual Information Report

Various authorities (not individuals) are required to send annual information report to the department of all persons, including NRIs, undertaking any one of the following transactions:

  1. Banks — (a) Cash payment of Rs 10 lakh for purchase of DDs / POs, RBI Bonds, etc. (b) Cash deposit / withdrawal of Rs 50 lakh from current account. (c) Cash deposit of Rs 10 lakh in any one or more accounts, other than current account and time deposits. (d) Time deposits, (other than those through renewal of another time deposit) of Rs 10 lakh (e) Payment in cash of Rs 1 lakh or Rs 10 lakh by any other mode, against credit card.
  2. Company — Receipt of Rs 10 lakh for acquiring bonds, debentures or shares, including share application money.
  3. Listed Company — Buyback of shares of Rs 10 lakh.
  4. MFs — Receipt of Rs 10 lakh for acquiring units.
  5. Forex dealer — Receipt of Rs 10 lakh for sale of forex, including against forex card or expenditure in such currency against debit/credit card or issue of traveller cheque or draft.
  6. IG registration or registrar/sub-registrar of property — Purchase or sale of immovable property for Rs  30 lakh or as valued by the stamp valuation authority, whichever is higher.
  7. Any person liable to audit u/s 44AB — Receipt of cash payment of Rs 2 lakh by any person for sale of goods and services, other than those specified above.

The aggregation rule is applicable for all transactions except for purchase or sale of immovable property and cash payment for GST.

Take care to remain out of being a reportable person, as much as you can.

Taxpayers can view their consolidated annual tax credits in Form 26AS enabling them to resolve any discrepancies arising due to incorrect quoted PAN, non-filing of TDS returns, non-deposit, lower deposit of TDS by the deductor, etc.

Refunds are made directly to the taxpayers’ bank accounts, with intimation through SMS or e-mail.

Tax and PAN related grievances can be redressed online through e-Nirvan, a paperless facility launched by CBDT. Alternatively, one can visit the Aaykar Seva Kendra. However, suggestions or matters related to the Court, RTI, religion, services of government employees or foreign governments cannot be redressed through this mechanism. 

Filing income tax returns is not just an act of responsibility, but it also helps in getting loans, credit cards and gaining benefits of adjustments against losses. Hence, file income tax returns on time.

The authors A.N. Shanbhag and Sandeep Shanbhag are financial advisors and can be reached at wonderlandconsultants@yahoo.com

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