CA Sharad Jain
It is generally expected that the Income Tax Return (ITR) forms and Tax Audit Report (TAR) form and utilities for uploading them on the website of the Income Tax Department should become finally available for public use, as on the Ist day of the Assessment Year e.g., for AY 2016-17 on 01st April, 2016 and, thereafter there should not be any changes therein. The changes if any required should be incorporated only in the forms and utilities for the subsequent assessment years.
In the Assessment Year 2013-14, the utility for uploading TAR were frequently changed. Due to that the tax payers / assesses and Tax Consultants, Chartered Accountants etc. had to face various difficulties and hardships. Further, when it became difficult to e file the TARs within available time limit, they had to make huge efforts (i.e., making representations to the CBDT etc.), for getting extension of the due date for submission of TAR.
Thereafter, it was generally expected that the problems of the tax payers etc. will be taken care of and in the upcoming years all the forms, utilities will be finally available well in advance. But contrary to that, again in the next assessment year i.e., Assessment Year 2014-15, the TAR forms were changed in the mid of the assessment year and again huge efforts (perhaps more than that for Assessment Year 2013-14, as this year writs were also to be filed before the various Hon’ble High Courts) were to be made by the tax payers, Tax Consultants etc. for extension of due date for filing of TARs and ITRs.
Again shockingly, the ITR forms could not have been issued for the Assessment Year 2015-16 which again caused the severe difficulties and hardship to the tax payers etc. Further, rather than to resolve the grievance of the tax payers etc., the responsible authorities adopted adamant attitude and again huge efforts were to be made and huge cost were to be incurred by the tax payers etc. for getting the extension of due dates for filing of TAR and ITRs.
Now the generally expected time for issuance of final ITRs, TAR and utilities for the Assessment Year 2016-17 i.e., 01st April, 2016 is near. Looking to the past experience it is not sure that this year also no such delays and related problems will be there. Therefore, at this time the authorities can be reminded in advance, by the representative organizations of tax payers, Tax Consultants etc., for issuance of these forms and utilities on or before 1st April, 2016.
Though it is not the duty of tax payers and Tax Consultants etc. to remind the authorities for timely issuance of forms etc. However, it will not be imprudent for them to take precautionary step of reminder to authorities rather than to face in the later stages, huge difficulties and hardships, consequent to the delayed issuance of forms etc.
Apart from the reminder for Assessment Year 2016-17, the authorities can also be given suggestions for ensuring timely issuance for forms etc. for subsequent years i.e., Assessment Year 2017-18 and onwards, which have been mentioned in subsequent paras.
(a) the CBDT should remain ready with the draft Income Tax Forms and all the relevant rules when the Finance Bill containing the Income Tax provisions for the concerned Assessment Year is laid down before the Lok Sabha ;
(b) On passing of the Finance Bill by the Parliament and receipt of the assent of the Hon’ble President, the CBDT should within two months thereafter, issue the amended draft of the Forms and the relevant rules for the public comments for next one month ;
(c) After considering the public comments, the CBDT should, within next two months thereafter, issue the final Forms and the relevant rules ;
(d) thereafter, the technical staff will have sufficient time (of about 6 -7 months) to prepare the utilities up to 31st March of the Financial Year and then from 1st day of the concerned assessment year the utilities could be made available for use, on the website of the Income Tax Department.
CONCLUSION : Since 1st April, 2016 is near, it is right time to remind the authorities to ensure the ITRs and TAR and utilities for the Assessment Year 2016-17. Similarly, the Union Budget 2016-17 is under preparation. The steps as suggested for the Assessment Year 2017-18 and onwards can be taken from this budget itself. Hope that these suggestions may be helpful in avoiding delay in timely issuance of forms etc. and such in meeting the general public expectations also to prevent losses to the revenue due to consequential delay in payment of Self Assessment Tax.
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