Filing income tax returns no longer involves pen and paper and a calculator. So you may have to change old jokes describing your duties to society at the next friendly get together.
It is mandatory for each resident Indian to e-file her taxes if she earns more than Rupees 2.5 lakh in a year. This rule is set in stone following a literal reading of Section 139 of the IT Act, 1961. Is there any chance of a leeway in terms of the declaration of levies paid to the government? Not for the financial year 2017-18. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had already announced earlier in the year that those unable to file their taxes by the due date would face stiff fines and penalties.
This threat has now been given teeth by the insertion of Section 234F to the existing statute that stipulates a penalty of Rupees 5000 on those declaring their taxes after the 31st of July (or any other due date as specified by the authorities) but on or before the 31st of December, 2018.
This toll could go up to Rupees 10,000 in case you do your returns after this date. There is the small consolation that your burden would not increase by Rupees 1000 if you earn less than 5 lakh in a year.
Apart from fees and fines, you will also be charged interest on arrears starting from the date the window closed to the date the government receives your statement online.
The message is simple: Do not fail to declare your annual statements and do it online. Because it’s fast, easy and secure and charges next to nothing if you are an ordinary assessee.
There are, of course, several advantages to doing your filings on time.
- Firstly, you become eligible for early refunds on excess payments to the government.
- Secondly, you contribute to keeping CA assistance costs low by distributing demand along the full range of the allotted time for declaration.
- You get a fuller chance to rectify mistakes in your declaration. You do not get charged interest for such failures.