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Filing Returns for Previous Years

Updated on:  

08 min read

The due date to file the income tax return for the financial year 2020-21 ended on 31st December 2021. In case if an individual was required to file the return and failed to do so, then there are few options to file the return.

This article covers the following:

Latest Update

Latest Update:
CBDT has issued a circular on 9th Sep 21 extending the timelines for certain direct tax compliances for AY 2021-22.
1. ITR Filing due date extension:
i) ITR filing by taxpayers not covered under audit is extended from 30th Sep 21 to 31st Dec 21
ii)  ITR filing for Tax audit cases is extended to 15th Feb 22 
iii) ITR filing for transfer Pricing is extended to 28th feb 22
iv) ITR filing of Belated or Revised Return for FY 20-21 is extended from 31st Dec 21 to 31st March 22

2. Furnishing Audit Report:
i) Due date to furnish the audit report is extended to 15th Jan 22
ii) Due date to furnish the audit report for transfer pricing cases is extended to 31st Jan 22

Filing ITR for Previous Years

According to the Finance Act 1987 amendment, you can file your belated IT return anytime on or before 1 year from the end of the relevant Assessment Year (AY). Example, for the AY 2016-17, the timeline to file a belated return was on or before 31 March 2018.

With the amendment vide Finance Act 2016, from AY 2017-18 belated IT returns should be filed before the end of the relevant AY. Hence, for the FY 2019-20, the last day to file a belated return was 31 March 2021.

However, the Finance Bill 2021 has further reduced the timeline of filing the belated return. With effect from AY 2021-22, you can file the belated return three months before the end of the relevant assessment year or before the completion of the assessment, whichever is earlier.
For example, the belated return for the FY 2020-21 can be filed up to 31st December 2021 (if assessment is not completed). This date has been extended by CBDT to 31st March 2022 specifically for FY 20-21.

What to do if you receive a late payment notice

If you have received a notice from the Income Tax Department asking you to file your returns that go beyond 2 financial years, you can log on to  www.cleartax.in to prepare your returns. You can then print this return and submit it to the Income Tax Office in your ward.

Usually, a taxpayer files old returns as a response to an income tax notice. Until AY 2017-18, there was a time limit of 1 year for filing a revised return from the end of the relevant AY. 

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 been reduced. Currently, such a revision has to be done on or before the end of the relevant AY.

Drawbacks of Filing Belated Returns

  • Interest may be applicable under section 234A, 234B and 234C.
  • A fee under Section 234F would be levied upto Rs 5000, if the return is filed on or before 31 March of the relevant AY. After that, the fine can go upto Rs 10,000.

Example:

For the FY 2018-19 (AY 2019-20), if the return is filed after 31 August 2019 but before 31 December 2019, a fee of Rs 5000 applies. Post 31 December 2019, the late fee would be Rs 10,000.

Note: For FY 2019-20 the last date to file the income tax return was 10th January 2021 so late fee of Rs. 10,000 shall be payable if the return is filed after 10th January 2021. 

  • Delayed returns cannot be revised. However, from FY 2016-17, a belated return can also be revised.
  • You cannot carry forward some losses that belong to the years for which you did not file returns. However, an exception is available for losses from house property that can be carried forward even if you file your returns late.

How to file the missed returns for FY 2020-21

The amendment made in the Finance Act 2016 stated that income tax returns must be filed within the end of the relevant assessment year, effective from the assessment year 2017-18. There is no provision for you to file the returns once you have missed the due date.

The income tax department allows taxpayers to file returns post-deadline in some specific cases. The following ways help you file a condonation of delay request:

  1. Request the Income Tax Commissioner or the prescribed authority to permit you to file income tax returns and state the reason for missing the deadline. The officer can accept your request based on the following criteria:
    • The claim is correct and genuine.
    • The case is based on genuine hardship of merits.
    • A refund has resulted due to excess tax deduction, TDS, advance tax, or self-assessment tax.
    • Any other person cannot assess the tax under the Income Tax Act.
  2. For such applications, the returns must be filed within a period of six years from the end of the assessment year for filing the return. For example, if you have missed filing returns on the due date of 31 March 2021, you can file such an application until 31 March 2026.
  3. If you have not paid the tax for FY 2020-21, you must pay the tax along with applicable interest under Section 234A, 234B, or 234C. You must pay the tax even if you are unable to file your income tax returns.
  4. It may so happen that you have paid your taxes on time but missed to file returns. In this case, you cannot file returns or apply for a condonation of delay. The income tax department may issue a notice under Section 271F for not filing ITR. You may have to pay a penalty of up to Rs.5,000 for missing the deadline. If you have a genuine explanation for not filing and if the officer is satisfied with the reason, you may not have to pay the penalty.
  5. The income tax department can take legal action against you for not filing returns such as issuing a notice and penalising. In the worst-case scenario, you may be prosecuted and a sentence of imprisonment for up to seven years.
  6. If you receive a notice from the income tax department, you must respond to it on the income tax e-filing portal. You can, then, file the ITR to comply with the notice.
  7. If you have under-reported the income, a penalty of up to 200% of the tax payable will be levied. In case if the taxpayer has paid taxes with interest after the deadline but has under-reported the income, the assessing officer may excuse his penalty and no penalty will be levied on him. Though there is an alternative in case you miss ITR filing by the due date, it is recommended to file returns by 31 July of the corresponding assessment year. For eg, you should file your ITR by 31st July 2021(extended to 31st December 2021) for the FY 2020-21.

Frequently Asked Question:

Can I file return for previous year 2020-21 after 31st December 2021 without paying any late fee or interest?

The due date to file income tax return by individuals (Non-audit cases) for FY 2020-21 is 31st December 2021. If you file return after 31st December 2021, interest and late fees up to Rs 10,000 will be levied.

How many years can a belated return be filed?

The taxpayers can file a belated return until the end of the assessment year or completion of the assessment, whichever is earlier. For example, for the AY 2019-20 (corresponding to FY 2018-19), a belated return can be filed until 31 March 2020.
However, for FY 2020-21 onwards, belated return can be filed 3 months before the end of the relevant assessment year or completion of assessment, whichever is earlier. Hence, the last date to file belated return for the FY 2020-21 is 31st December 2021 (extended to 31st March 2022 specifically for FY 2020-21).

How many times can you e-file after being rejected?

You can re-submit your e-filed return as many times as necessary until the filing deadline in October. However, we recommend that after three unsuccessful attempts (with the same e-file error), you print, sign, and mail your return. Some e-file issues cannot be resolved except by the IRS.   

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