Income Tax Returns for a financial year must be filed by individuals on or before the 31st of July of the next financial year. For example, Income Tax Returns of FY 2016-17 that end on 31st March 2017 will be due on 31st July 2017(However, the due date for this year was extended to 5th August 2017).
Until the amendment in the Finance Act 2016, you can file your IT Returns after the specified due date i.e. belatedly, anytime on or before 1 year from the end of the relevant Assessment Year(AY). For example, for the AY 2016-17, a belated return can be filed on or before 31st March 2018. However, with the amendment vide Finance Act 2016, from AY 2017-18 i.e.FY 2016-17, IT belated returns should be filed before the end of the relevant AY. For example, return for FY 2016-17 can be belatedly filed on or before 31.03.2018 only.
Therefore, ideally, 31st March 2018 is the deadline for all the belated tax return filers for the AYs 2016-17 & 2017-18.
Belated filing has its own drawbacks:
- Penal interest may be applicable under section 234A, 234B and 234C.
- Delayed returns cannot be revised. (From FY 2016-17, belated return can also be revised)
- You will not be allowed to carry forward some losses that belong to the years for which returns were not filed.
In case you have received a notice from I-T Department asking you to file your returns which go beyond 2 financial years, you can prepare www.cleartax.in to prepare your return. You can then print this return and submit it to the Income Tax Office in your ward. Usually old returns are filed as a response to an income tax notice.
Interesting to note that from the AY 2018-19, the time limit for filing a revised return rectifying any omission, error etc made in the original return has also been reduced and such revision has to be done on or before the end of the relevant AY. Until AY 2017-18, there was a time limit for filing a revised return, of 1 year from the end of the relevant AY.