It is important to note that the payment of income tax and filing of the income tax return is two distinct and separate legal obligations under Income Tax. The duty of the taxpayer doesn’t end up just by timely payment of the income tax. In fact, the income tax law also mandates the taxpayer to file their income tax return within the prescribed time limit.
With a view to ensure timely filing of such income tax returns, the provisions of section 234F of the Income Tax Act were recently made effective from 1st April 2018. The provisions deal with the late fees, which is applicable in case of delay in filing of an income tax return. The said provisions of section 234F are simplified in the present article.
Provisions of section 139(1) of the Income Tax Act deals with the mandatory filing of the income tax return. The following table broadly summarizes the return filing requirement-
|Category of person||Mandatory return filing requirement|
|Company||Mandatorily required to file the income tax return without any exemption limit|
|Firm||Mandatorily required to file an income tax return without any exemption limit|
|Any person other than a company or a firm||Mandatorily required to file the income tax return only if exceeds the maximum amount not chargeable to tax (i.e., only if exceeds the exemption limit)|
However, as per the seventh proviso to said section 139(1), in case of any person (other than a company or a firm) is not required to file the return, as per the above criteria, will have to mandatorily file the return if satisfies any of the below standards-
Due dates for filing returns of income for the Financial Year 2020-2021 is extended vide circular no. 9/2021 dated 20th May 2021. The original due dates and extended due dates are summarized hereunder-
|Particulars||Original due date||Extended due date|
|Income Tax Return for non-audit cases||31st July 2021||30th September 2021|
|Income Tax Return for audit cases||31st October 2021||30th November 2021|
|Income Tax Return for cases where report under section 92E is required to be furnished||30th November 2021||31st December 2021|
Provisions of section 234F simply state that any taxpayer who is required to furnish a return as per section 139, fails or defaults in furnishing the same will be liable to pay late fees as per section 234F.
The amount of late fees payable under section 234F till 31st March 2021 is summarized hereunder-
1. INR 5,000 when the return is filed on or before 31st December; or
2. INR 10,000 in any other case.
However, with effect from 1st April 2021, the amount of late fees payable provisions is amended. Accordingly, the late fees payable as per section 234F from 1st April 2021 is-
1. Maximum INR 1,000 when the total income of the person doesn’t exceed INR 5 Lakhs; or
2. INR 5,000 in any other case.