The last date for e-filing income-tax returns this year has been extended to August 5. The original deadline for filing income tax returns for FY 2016-17 (AY 2017-18) was July 31, 2017.
The extension is a welcome relief for a large number of tax payers struggling to meet the deadline in the face of various problems.
While extending the deadline for filing ITR, the government has also provided relief to people by allowing them to file their returns without linking of PAN and Aadhaar. However, quoting of Aadhaar or Enrolment ID in the return is mandatory as before and those filing the return without linking PAN-Aadhaar must link the two by August 31, 2017. The returns will be processed by the department only after the two ID proofs are linked.
This year there have been multiple changes which impact income tax return filing. These include: Requirement of linking PAN with Aadhaar, compulsory quoting of Aadhaar in tax returns, receiving TDS certificates late (as compared to earlier years) from employers and other deductors and chartered accountants being busy with GST. Further, the income tax department’s efiling website has been running erratic and also seen shut downs (of several hours) for maintenance over the last fortnight.
Central Board of Direct Taxes in 2016 had amended the rules relating to the deadlines for filing TDS returns by banks and other deductors who are liable to issue Form 16A (TDS certificate) to tax payers.
Due to this revision, the deadline for these deductors to issue Form 16A (for FY 2016-17) automatically got extended. According to the changed rules, the deadline for filing TDS returns by these entities was extended by 15 days from May 15 earlier to May 31. This allowed banks to issue Form 16A to their customers up till June 15, 2017 for FY2016-17.
This means that while earlier banks etc. were legally required to issue TDS certificates for a particular financial year to customers latest by May 31 (of the following financial year/relevant assessment year) this year (i.e. for FY2016-17) they could do so till June 15, 2017.
In fact, several banks actually took advantage of this and issued TDS certificates on or just before June 15, 2017. Consequently, customers got their TDS certificates this year later than in previous years. It is advisable to check the TDS in these certificates before filing one’s return. Therefore, tax payers waiting to get these TDS certificates would have found it difficult to finalise their returns till after June 15.
Earlier the last date for employers to issue Form 16 to their employees was May 31 of the assessment year. Assessment year is the financial year immediately following the FY for which the return is to be filed.
However, the finance ministry in its notification dated June 2nd, 2017 revised the deadline for issuing TDS certificates for FY2016-17 to employees by employers. As per the notification, the new deadline is now June 15 of the assessment year as against May 31st earlier.
This extension is similar to that for banks etc. however it impacts a larger number of people i.e. all salaried employees. This is because salaried employees not having income from other sources (e.g. from fixed deposits with banks) would also not have been able to file their returns without getting this Form 16 from their employer.
The income tax department notified the new ITR forms for FY2016-17 on April 1, 2017 itself instead of much later as was done in earlier years. However, despite this many people would not have been able to file their returns early due to non-availability of TDS certificates.
“All this has reduced the time in the hands of the taxpayer and the tax practitioner by 15 days. In addition to this, demonetisation and other efforts of the government to bring about compliance awareness amongst the taxpayers and to increase the overall taxpayer base is expected to increase the count of the tax return filers this year. This will cause a significant burden on the tax practitioners to complete the increased no of returns in 75% of the time allowed in earlier years”, says Chetan Chandak, Head of tax Research H&R Block, India.