Request a demo

Thank you for your response

Our representative will get in touch with you shortly.

Please Fill the Details to download

Thank you for your response

Income Tax Audit under Section 44AB – Criteria, Audit Report, Penalty

Updated on:  

08 min read

Before understanding what is tax audit, let us understand the term  ‘Audit’. Dictionary meaning of the term ‘Audit’ suggests that it is an official inspection of an organization’s accounts and production of report, typically by an independent body. It is also referred to as a systematic review or assessment of something.

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

What is a tax audit?

There are various kinds of audits being conducted under different laws such as company audit /statutory audit conducted under company law provisions, cost audit, stock audit etc. Similarly, income tax law also mandates an audit called ‘Tax Audit’.

As the name itself suggests, tax audit is an examination or review of accounts of any business or profession carried out by taxpayers from an income tax viewpoint. It makes the process of income computation for filing of return of income easier.

Objectives of tax audit

Tax audit is  conducted to achieve the following objectives:

  • Ensure proper maintenance and correctness of books of accounts and certification of the same by a tax auditor
  • Reporting observations/discrepancies noted by tax auditor after a methodical examination of the books of account
  • To report prescribed information such as tax depreciation, compliance of various provisions of income tax law, etc.

All these enable tax authorities in verifying the correctness of income tax returns filed by the taxpayer. Calculation and verification of total income, claim for deductions etc., also becomes easier.

Who is mandatorily subject to tax audit?

A taxpayer is required to have a tax audit carried out if the sales, turnover or gross receipts of business exceed Rs 1 crore in the financial year. However, a taxpayer may be required to get their accounts audited in certain other circumstances. We have categorised the various circumstances in the tables mentioned below:

NOTE: The threshold limit of Rs 1 crore for a tax audit is proposed to be increased to Rs 5 crore with effect from AY 2020-21 (FY 2019-20) if the taxpayer’s cash receipts are limited to 5% of the gross receipts or turnover, and if the taxpayer’s cash payments are limited to 5% of the aggregate payments. We present the various categories of taxpayers below:

Edit
Category of personThreshold
Business
Carrying on business (not opting for presumptive taxation scheme*)Total sales, turnover or gross receipts exceed Rs.1 crore in the FY
Carrying on business eligible for presumptive taxation under Section 44AE, 44BB or 44BBBClaims profits or gains lower than the prescribed limit under presumptive taxation scheme
Carrying on business eligible for presumptive taxation under Section 44AD Declares taxable income below the limits prescribed under the presumptive tax scheme and has income exceeding the basic threshold limit.
Carrying on the business and is not eligible to claim presumptive taxation under Section 44AD due to opting out for presumptive taxation in any one financial year of the lock-in period i.e. 5 consecutive years from when the presumptive tax scheme was optedIf income exceeds the maximum amount not chargeable to tax in the subsequent 5 consecutive tax years from the financial year when the presumptive taxation was not opted for
Carrying on business which is declaring profits as per presumptive taxation scheme under Section 44ADIf income exceeds the maximum amount not chargeable to tax in the subsequent 5 consecutive tax years from the financial year when the presumptive taxation was not opted for
Carrying on business which is declaring profits as per presumptive taxation scheme under Section 44ADIf the total sales, turnover or gross receipts does not exceed Rs 2 crore in the financial year, then tax audit will not apply to such businesses.
Profession
Carrying on profession Total gross receipts exceed Rs 50 lakh in the FY 
Carrying on the profession eligible for presumptive taxation under Section 44ADA1. Claims profits or gains lower than the prescribed limit under the presumptive taxation scheme 
2. Income exceeds the maximum amount not chargeable to income tax
Business loss
In case of loss from carrying on of business and not opting for presumptive taxation schemeTotal sales, turnover or gross receipts exceed Rs 1 crore
If taxpayer’s total income exceeds basic threshold limit but he has incurred a loss from carrying on a business (not opting for presumptive taxation scheme)In case of loss from business when sales, turnover or gross receipts exceed 1 crore, the taxpayer is subject to tax audit under 44AB
Carrying on business (opting presumptive taxation scheme under section 44AD) and having a business loss but with income below basic threshold limitTax audit not applicable
Carrying on business (presumptive taxation scheme under section 44AD applicable) and having a business loss but with income exceeding basic threshold limitDeclares taxable income below the limits prescribed under the presumptive tax scheme and has income exceeding the basic threshold limit

What happens if a person is required to get his accounts audited under any other law for eg. statutory audit of companies under company law provisions?

In such cases, the taxpayer need not get his accounts audited again for income tax purposes. It is sufficient if accounts are audited under such other law before the due date of filing the return. The taxpayer can furnish this prescribed audit report under Income tax law.

What constitutes an Audit report

Tax auditor shall furnish his report in a prescribed form which could be either Form 3CA or Form 3CB where:

  • Form No. 3CA is furnished when a person carrying on business or profession is already mandated to get his accounts audited under any other law.
  • Form No. 3CB is furnished when a person carrying on business or profession is not required to get his accounts audited under any other law.

In case of either of the aforementioned audit reports, the tax auditor must furnish the prescribed particulars in Form No. 3CD, which forms part of the audit report.

How and when tax audit reports shall be furnished?

The tax auditor shall furnish a tax audit report online by using his login details in the capacity of ‘Chartered Accountant’. Taxpayers shall also add CA details in their login portal.

Once the tax auditor uploads the audit report, the same should either be accepted/rejected by the taxpayer in their login portal. If rejected for any reason, all the procedures need to be followed again till the audit report is accepted by the taxpayer.

You must file the tax audit report on or before the due date of filing the return of income. It is 30th November of the subsequent year in case the taxpayer has entered into an international transaction and 30 September (extended to 30th November for AY 2021-22) of the subsequent year for other taxpayers.

Penalty of non filing or delay in filing tax audit report

If any taxpayer who is required to get the tax audit done but fails to do so, the least of the following may be levied as a penalty:

  • 0.5% of the total sales, turnover or gross receipts
  • Rs 1,50,000

However, if there is a reasonable cause of such failure, no penalty shall be levied under section 271B.

So far, the reasonable causes that are accepted by Tribunals/Courts are: 

  • Natural Calamities
  • Resignation of the Tax Auditor and Consequent Delay
  • Labour problems such as strikes, lock-outs for an extended period
  • Loss of Accounts because of situations beyond the control of the Assesses
  • Physical inability or death of the partner in charge of the accounts

Related Articles

Form 3CD- Explanation and Applicability

Comprehensive Analysis of Tax Audit – Forms 3CA, 3CB, 3CD & 3CE

Books of Accounts and Audit Requirements

inline CTA
File your income tax for FREE in 7 minutes
Free, simple and accurate. Designed by tax experts