Belated return (Return under section 139(4)) simply means filing of income tax return after due date or extended due date. Belated return can also be called as late return or delayed return. You must be aware that under the Income-tax Act, 1961, there is section 139 which casts responsibility on persons to file income tax return and in this section different statutory due dates have been fixed depending upon assessee and these due dates can be extended by Government (i.e. executives) depending upon circumstances and generally these due dates are extended by the Government because of last minute rush or traffic, income tax site does not work properly and in exceptional circumstance e.g. flood, earthquake, epidemic like COVID-19 etc.
Under Indian Income-tax Act, 1922 (refer section 22 of the Indian Income-tax Act, 1922) there was provision for filing of belated return before completion of assessment but some assessees, who were mandatorily required to file return, were filing return in last hours or last days of time prescribed for completion of assessment therefore taking advantage of inaction or inactiveness of tax officers therefore Income-tax Act, 1961 cured this defect and that is why belated return filing period specified originally in section 139(4) and this period was reduced gradually by way of amendment made by Finance Act, 1968 but Finance Act, 1987 reduced belated return filing period to one year from end of relevant assessment year or before completion of assessment whichever is earlier.
Finance Act, 2016 w.e.f. AY 2017-18 further reduced belated return filing period to end of relevant assessment year (i.e. last date of the assessment year) or before completion of assessment whichever is earlier this was done with a view to early completion of assessment proceeding, realization of revenue without undue compliance burden on the taxpayer and to promote the culture of compliance
Finance Bill, 2021 (refer clause 32(b of the Finance Bill, 2021) has further reduced belated return filing period to 3 months before end of relevant assessment year or before completion of assessment whichever is earlier and this amendment will take effect from AY 2021-2022, this amendment has been proposed because of technological upgradation there are reduction in time of various processes under Income-tax law and this amendment will also increase culture of compliance. Most probably this Finance Bill, 2021 will get presidential assent in last week of March 2021 so soon this is going to be an Act therefore from assessment year 2021-2022 if you miss due date of filing of ITR for any reason then you can file belated return upto 31st December of the assessment year and Belated return filing comes with some negative consequence, we will discuss such consequences in some other article.
1. 31st July of the assessment year
All assessee (e.g. individual (natural person), Hindu Undivided Family (HUF) etc.) not covered in point 2 and 3
2. 31st October of the assessment year
(II) person (other than company) whose accounts required to be audited under this Act (e.g. tax audit under section 44AB, audit under section 33AB etc.) or under any other law (e.g. LLP Act, 2008, Societies Registration Act, 1860 etc.) for the time being in force
(III) a partner of a firm whose accounts are required to be audited under this Act or under any other law for the time being in force
Proposed amendment by Finance Bill, 2021 – (i) in clause (a), in sub-clause (iii) i.e. our sub-point III of Point 2, after the words “any other law for the time being in force”, the words, figure and letter “or the spouse of such partner if the provisions of section 5A applies to such spouse” shall be inserted
3. 30th November of the assessment year – For assessees who are required furnish report under section 92E (where person entered into international transaction or specified domestic transaction)
(Refer (Explanation (2) of section 139(1) of the Income-tax Act, 1961)
Section 139(4) of the Income-tax Act, 1961 – BELATED RETURN – AS ON 19TH MARCH 2021
Any person who has not furnished a return within the time allowed to him under sub-section (1), may furnish the return for any previous year at any time before the end of the relevant assessment year or before the completion of the assessment, whichever is earlier.
Section 139(4) of the the Income-tax Act, 1961 As on 1st April 1962 as enforced
Any person who has not furnished a return within the time allowed to him under sub-section (1) or sub-section (2) may before the assessment is made furnish the return for any previous year at any time before the end of four assessment years from the end of the assessment year to which the return relates, and the provisions of sub-clause (iii) of the proviso to sub-section (1) shall apply in every such case.
Section 22(3) of Indian Income-tax Act, 1922
If any person has not furnished a return within the time allowed by or under sub-section (1) or sub-section (2), or having furnished a return under either of those sub-sections, discovers any omission or wrong statement therein, he may furnish a return or a revised return, as the case may be, at any time before the assessment is made.
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