After getting much awaited extension on the eve of 11th January, for filing of tax audit reports and ITR, consultants and taxpayers are now relieved for a while. In fact, many of us are already busy in making plans for long weekend of Makararsankarti, Lohri etc festivals holidays.
Whenever such extension of time limit is announced, being consultant, part of me also feels relaxed. However, one question which I always ask my self-Why we need to ask for such extensions year to year, every year?? Is time limit declared in law is too short or are we always pre-occupied with one thing or another round the year?? Or do we lack skill of time management or self-management?
Let’s go back to the history of e-filing and extensions. In case of Income tax, e-filing era started from AY 2007-08, which was almost 15 years back. Much water has been flowed under the bridge since then. But our habit of asking for extension remain unchanged. If we look at the history of extensions, if I can remember correctly, except for the AY 2012-13, extension has been granted for every single year for one reason or another .
Here it is worth to note that; extensions for the last two years seem genuine and well deserved, as taxpayers and consultants are not immune to Covid -19. Once cannot expect to file 3CD in time when he is battling for his life. But before the Covid-19 era, extensions granted based on” difficulties faced by the taxpayers” are not much digestible.
Since its inception, Income Tax E-filing portal, which was developed by the TCS was functioning smoothly till it breathed last on 31.05.2021.(I terribly miss old portal, who doesn’t?!!).Very seldom, we had encountered technical glitches on old portal, which we find now and then on new Portal. Even on last days of filing at its peak of traffic, old portal hardly get used to face any downtime.
So, every year, why we are needed to rush to High Courts and bag for extension?? The answer simply resides in self-introspection. The first and foremost change required is self-management. Now, with due respect, I find concept of time management total humbug. Time is concept of physics and it is eternal. Time was there before us, here now and will be after we leave. Hence, till whatever brief period of time, we are here on this planet, we must learn to adjust ourselves to stay in harmony with the time.
In case of small business units, such as proprietorship, partnership firms, often it is seen that; books are not closed till very last moment. Due to which, finalization and filing of 3CD and ITR also get delayed. To overcome such unnecessary delay, being consultant, it is our responsibility to aware and educate our clients in this matter.
Sometimes, I also see lethargy and procrastination (myself included) on part of the consultants. We always feel; we have plenty of time left for due date and hence we leave finalization work for last days.
Among all the bad to worse things that happened in Covid-19 Pandemic, one good thing it has taught humanity is uncertainty and shortness of life. So if we can conclude finalization today, we must not postpone till tomorrow. Because in reality of space and time, there is always today!!
In case of tax consultants or CAs doing tax practice, April to June is generally slack season. So we can easily start early stages of finalization such as passing closing entries, vouching in May, June itself.
Further, we must frame a strict policy of not entertaining those lazy clients who appear on last days, even if we have to lose such clients.
Due to time constraint on last moment filing, there is higher chance of errors in data punching in 3CD and ITR. I have observed in many cases, such clerical errors may lead to opening or re-opening of unnecessary assessments, which are totally avoidable.
Another lacuna observed for delay are technological illiteracy and lack of infrastructure facility. In era of faceless and paperless litigation, we must learn to equip ourselves with latest technology. I am not trying to tell that; we should sell off our old desktops and buy Mac Book Pro. My simple point is compliance should not get delayed due to poor internet connections at our workplace or use of downgraded software.
If we face any downtime on IT portal, we must immediately inform CPC and ask for help.
Thus, timely compliance procedure is equal responsibility of both that of client and consultant. Let’s shake hands and take an oath for timely compliance for at least one season! Then, we don’t need to seek any extensions and can utilize spare time in other creative stuff. This is the least we can do for nation building!!