In a major relief to individual taxpayers, the government on Wednesday extended the deadline for filing the income-tax return (ITR) for the financial year 2019-20 from December 31 to January 10, and also advanced timelines for other assessees.
“The deadlines have been extended for the third time to provide relief to taxpayers who have been badly hit by the Covid-19 pandemic. While the initial deadline for individual taxpayers was July 31, it was first extended to November 30, then to December 31 and now to January 10. Similarly, deadlines have been extended for corporate taxpayers and assesses who require to get their accounts audited,” a finance ministry spokesperson said.
Chartered accountant Tarun Kumar said while the due date for filing income tax returns for non-audit cases is extended to January 10, 2021, the new deadline for audit cases is February 15. “Further, the due date to file tax audit report by chartered accountants stands extended to January 15, 2021,” he said.
He, however, cautioned taxpayers about interest liabilities. “The taxpayers shall be able to carry forward their losses and need not pay the late filing fee if the tax return is filed within the extended due dates. However, there is no relief from the payment of interest under Section 234A if the tax liability exceeds Rs1 lakh,” he said.
The finance ministry spokesperson said the last date for making a declaration under the tax amnesty scheme – ‘Vivad Se Vishwas’ has also been extended from December 31, 2020 to January 31, 2021. The scheme was announced in the Union Budget presented on February 1, 2020, to resolve legacy disputes involving direct taxes. The scheme provides for waiver of penalty and interest on the payment of the disputed amount. Over 483,000 direct tax legacy disputes are stuck in various tribunals.
He said the deadlines have been extended on demand of taxpayers. “India has been most liberal in terms of providing relief to both individual and corporate taxpayers by extending deadlines amidst the Covid-19 pandemic compared to countries such as USA, UK, Singapore, Canada and Brazil. While UK did not give any relief, USA extended the deadline from April 15 to October 15, Singapore from April 18 to May 31 [for individuals], Canada from April 30 to September 30 and Brazil from March 1 to April 30 [for individuals],” he added.
Naveen Wadhwa, DGM at Taxmann, the publisher on taxation matters, said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has been quite disruptive. Several people working from home were facing difficulties in getting documents and other necessary information required to be filled in various ITRs. The extension of deadlines will give them respite and help them comply without inviting penalty.”