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139(9) – How to Respond to a Defective Return Notice?

Updated on :  

08 min read.

It is natural to make a mistake or two when you do something you don’t do often or are not used to doing – like filing income tax returns. Sometimes we may miss entering certain information. Sometimes there could be an error. In such cases, your return is considered as a ‘defective return’ and the income tax department will issue a notice of defective return as per Section 139(9) to rectify the errors. If not rectified on time, these mistakes can lead to unpleasant repercussions. In this article, we shall talk about situations which render your return defective and how to deal with the notice issued by the IT Department.

Situations in which notice for defective return will be issued

The Assessing Officer may consider the below-mentioned reasons, errors or omissions to issue a notice of defective return under section 139 (9):

1. Incomplete ITR-In case income tax return is incomplete, or there is an omission of details in the annexure, statements and columns which are mandatory. For instance, while claiming deduction under section 80D, its schedule details are not filled or wrongly filled.

2. Missing information on taxes-Taxes paid, but their details are missing in the income tax return. Details of taxes paid like TDS / TCS / advance tax or self-assessment tax should be mentioned while filing the income tax return.

3. TDS claimed but corresponding income not offered for tax-If you have earned interest income from term deposits and tax has been deducted by the bank, both interest income and tax deducted should be reported in the tax return. However, if TDS has been claimed but interest income has not been reported in the tax return you may receive a defective notice. While filing return through Cleartax portal, there is an option to upload 26AS, so as to negate this defect from the very beginning.

4. Related to books of accounts– If books of accounts are to be maintained, incomplete submission or non-submission of books of accounts including trading account, Profit and Loss account / Income or expenditure account, Balance sheet, Personal capital account (proprietor, partners, AOP, BOI), etc. as prescribed by the law will lead to defective return notice.

5. Related to Income Tax Audit– If an audit is required to be done under section 44AB, the complete audit report, including profit and loss account, Balance sheet, auditors report, should be submitted. In the absence of these documents or submission of an incomplete audit report, you may invite a defective return notice.

6. Related to Cost Audit-If the entity has to mandatorily conduct ‘Cost Audit’ under the Companies Act, 1956, and fails to submit its details, then the return filed will be considered as defective, and notice may be issued.

7. Related to Presumptive Taxation-If regular books of accounts are not required to be maintained or if the return is filed under the provisions of presumptive income, you may receive a defective return notice if the computation of the taxable income is less than the prescribed rate of 8% or 6% of the turnover / gross receipts. Also, in such cases, non-disclosure of details related to sundry debtors, sundry creditors, stock and cash in hand will lead to notice. For instance, gross receipts not mentioned in the Profit and Loss account, or the amount mentioned is more than Rs. 2 crore is ITR 4, will lead to a notice of defective return.

8. Unpaid taxes-Partial payment of taxes against liability or if taxes are paid but the amount does not match the tax payable in the income tax return, the department may issue a defective return notice.

9. Incorrect details in ITR– ITR filed is incorrect in terms of the turnover/ income limit or not applicable for the reported head of income as prescribed. Such return filed will be considered as defective, and notice shall be issued.

10. Mismatch in the name-The name mentioned on the income tax return does not match with the name on the PAN card.

How to Respond to Defective Return Notice u/s 139(9)?

If the Assessing Officer considers the return to be defective, then a notice will be sent to the taxpayer. The taxpayer will have 15 days time to respond to the notice. This time period can be extended by the officer upon request from the taxpayer.

  • You must revise your return addressing the defects the Income Tax Department has pointed out within a period of 15 days from the receipt of notice under Section 139(9).
  • You can seek an extension by writing to your local Assessing Officer if you fail to revise your income tax return within 15 days.

If the defect is not rectified within a period of 15 days or the extended days allowed, the original return will be treated as an invalid return. This means it will be considered as if no income tax return has been filed.

How to revise your income tax return in response to the notice

Step 1: Check the reason for defective notice.

An income tax return (ITR) may be marked defective for various reasons. Say you have received a defective notice because there is a mismatch between Form 26AS and your ITR. Download Form 26AS from the IT portal and check if you have earned any income on which tax has been deducted, for e.g.:

  • interest income from term deposits;
  • dividend income or 
  • any other income 

Ideally, you should have reported both your income and the tax deducted in your ITR. However, if you claim only TDS but miss out on reporting the income, you may receive a defective notice.

Step 2: Once you identify the reason, log in to ClearTax and prepare the ITR u/s 139(9)

Steps on how to respond to defective notice u/s 139(9) on Cleartax:

1. Log in to ClearTax with your credentials.

2. On the top right corner >> Click on ‘My Account’ >> Select ‘My Tax Returns’ from the dropdown menu as shown below.

3. Click on ‘View details’, scroll further down, and click on ‘Mark your ITR as Revised’.

4. Add the income details you missed disclosing in your original ITR and rectify the defect. Make sure you are correctly addressing the error due to which the return was considered defective.

5. After making the necessary changes, kindly check if any tax is payable. If yes, then make the payment and update the challan details. (Refer to this guide)

6. Once done, go to ‘My Accounts’ section again >> click on ‘Prepare Rectification JSON u/s139(9)’.

7. Click on ‘My tax return is final and ready for filing under section 139(9)’. Enter CPC Notice number and date of notice from the email you received from the department and click on download JSON.

You will have to upload this JSON file on the income tax portal. The steps are listed below.

Step 3: Steps on how to respond to defective notice u/s 139(9) on income tax portal
1.  Log in on the e-filing website with your user ID (PAN/Aadhaar number) and password.

2. Click on ‘Pending Actions’ and then select ‘E-proceedings’.

3. Click on the ‘View Notices’. Here, you can view the notice and submit your response. After reading the notice, click on ‘Submit Response’.

4. You can see the error description to understand the defect and its probable resolution is also mentioned alongside.
If you agree with the error details, select the ‘Agree’ option and ‘Offline utility’ as the mode of response.

6. Complete the ITR filing by uploading the JSON file that you downloaded from ClearTax Platform.

7. If you disagree with the defect, you can proceed by selecting the ‘Disagree’ option. You will also have to give reasons for disagreement in the text box provided

8. Check the box ‘Response cannot be modified after submission’ and then click on ‘Submit‘.

9. Now click on the ‘Proceed to e-verify‘ button to e-verify your response for defective notice u/s 139(9). You can e-verify by any of the methods.

10. You will see a confirmation message with an acknowledgement number on the screen upon successful uploading.

In a nutshell, responding to a defective return notice is not time-consuming anymore like before. Thanks to technological advancements. If you choose to file your returns with ClearTax, not only is the process quick, but we will also ensure that you do it in an error-free manner.

Frequently Asked Questions

I have received a defective return notice under section 139(9), within how many days should I respond to the notice? Can I request for an extension?

You have to respond to the notice within 15 days of receiving the notice. You can ask for an extension of further 15 days by writing to your local assessing officer.

What happens if I do not respond to the defective return notice?

If you don’t rectify the return within 15 days or extended time, your return will be considered as invalid, i.e. it will be treated as if you have not filed your return.

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