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 2017-18 that end on 31st March 2018 will be due on 31st July 2018.
According to the amendment in the Finance Act 2016, you can file your belated IT Returns 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 belated IT belated returns should be filed before the end of the relevant AY.
Therefore, 31st March 2018 assumed immense significance as it was the deadline for all the belated tax return filers for the AY 2016-17 & AY 2017-18.
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 log on to 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.
It is 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.
Drawbacks of Filing Belated Returns