Income tax return – Who should file and when to file

Last Updated at: Jul 11, 2020
Income tax return - Who should file and when to file
The notified income tax return forms enable taxpayers to claim tax deductions for tax-saving investments, payments, donations and investments for capital gains exemption, made during the extended period until 30 June 2020.


The honourable finance minister has announced that the official due date for all income tax returns for the year 2020-21 is extended until November 30, 2020.


An income tax return is a document which gives information about the taxpayer’s tax liability to the tax collector. The provision for filing of income tax return is governed by “The Income Tax Act 1961”. Income tax return is the format in which the taxpayer furnishes his total income and the amount of tax payable. The Central Board of Direct Taxes notifies the format for filing the returns by different assesses. The general requirements for furnishing the return are particulars of income earned under a different head, gross income, and deductions from gross total income, total income, and tax payable by the assessee. In other words, an income tax return filing is a declaration of income in the prescribed form by the assessee.

Compulsory filing of return

For any individual earning a salary, pension, or income from one house property or sources other than a lottery with no losses can file the return. Section 139(1) of the Income Tax Act deals with the compulsion filing of the return. An individual person should file the return mandatorily on or before the due date if his gross taxable income during the particular financial year exceeds the maximum amount which is not chargeable to tax.

If he incurs the loss in the previous financial year, he need not file any return. An NRI whose gross income exceeds Rs.250000 in the previous year has to file the return. It is compulsory for all the firms including Limited Liability Partnerships (LLP) as well as Unlimited Liability Partnerships and companies regardless of Public, Private or foreign companies to file the return of income or loss for every previous year on or before the due date in the prescribed form.

Here the basic exemption limit is Rs.250000 for individuals/HUFs and artificial juridical persons, Rs.300000 for resident individual of the age of 60 years but less than 80 years and Rs.500000 for resident individuals of the age of 80 years or more at any time during the previous year.

As a resident and ordinary resident individual, they should furnish the tax return by filing irrespective of their income, if they own overseas assets. There are no separate limits for the female taxpayers. These amounts denote the level of income which is arrived after claiming the admissible deductions. However, the level of total income to be considered for the purpose of the filing is the income before claiming the admissible deductions and exemptions under Sec 10(38).

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Due dates

Section 139 of the Income Tax Act 1961 consists of few due dates. This allows the individuals or entities to file the return in the prescribed dates. Any person who doesn’t require to audit his accounts is supposed to file the returns by July 31 of every assessment year. A person or employee who is getting salaries, who is a self-employed or professional, An NRI and freelancer or a consultant are needed to file their return by 31st July. Any persons or entity or a working partner with the firm or a consultant who has to audit the accounts need to file their returns by 30th September.

The taxpayer has to make his return on or before the due date or within allowable time by a notice. If they fail to return, it will lead to belated return sec.139 (4). He will be charged Rs.5000 as a penalty under Sec 217F of IT Act for belated return. Even though returns are filed after the due date, no penalty is imposed when the income doesn’t require a mandatory filing.

Filing of return

Individuals having a total income less than Rs 5 lakh have an option for filing their tax return in a written form. Other taxpayers should mandatorily file their return in electronic form with a digital signature. Income tax can also be filed by transmitting the data electronically under verification code. Before filing the return the individuals should link their PAN and Aadhar number as it is required under the Finance Act 2017. The foreign citizens, individual above 80 years, non-resident need not link their details. Income-tax Department has established a portal for e-filing the return of income.

Income Tax returns are attached with fewer forms and hence the taxpayer is not required to attach any documents such as TDS certificates, investment proof etc. along with return. The online filing of return doesn’t allow any documents. It is advisable to retain all relevant documents of income disclosed, claims/deduction whenever they are demanded.

The filing of returns comes with many benefits.  If the person files an income tax return, he will be getting loans easily. He will be saved from penalties for the default, Not only for claiming loan or escaping himself from penalty but also to prove that he is a responsible citizen. Even if the filing of return is not mandatory the person can voluntarily file it.