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How To Do a Tax Audit?

Discover essential tax audit techniques, procedures, and compliance guidelines for a comprehensive and accurate financial review.

In India, there are several types of audits governed by different laws, such as income tax audits, stock audits, cost audits, and statutory audits under company law. Section 44AB of the Income Tax Act, 1961, outlines the regulations for income tax audits.

Generally a tax audit in India is a critical process involving the examination and analysis of tax returns submitted by individuals or businesses to determine their precise income tax liability. Understanding the rules, forms, and penalties associated with income tax audits is essential, as it ensures the accurate calculation of tax obligations for both individuals and businesses.

Tax Audit – An Overview  

Income tax audits, as the name suggests, aim to verify the accuracy of income tax returns filed by individuals or companies for a specific assessment year. An external agency is assigned the task of reviewing returns, assessing income, deductions, expenditures, and other criteria as specified by the Income Tax Act, 1961. This process simplifies the calculation of tax returns. The Chartered Accountant responsible for the tax audit submits an audit report, which includes their observations, typically in the form of Form 3CA or Form 3CB, along with Form 3CD.

What Is a Tax Audit Report?

In the course of conducting a tax audit, the individual responsible for the audit is required to present their findings in a report using specific ‘Audit Forms’ as mandated by the Income Tax Department. Forms 3CA and 3CB are to be used for this purpose in accordance with Section 44AB. The auditor must also deliver a Form 3CD along with these other forms. Below, we’ll go into more depth about these forms.

Once the Chartered Accountant completes the tax audit report, it is electronically submitted to the Income Tax Department. Following this submission, the taxpayer is responsible for validating and approving the tax audit report through their ITR filing account.

When Does Tax Audit Apply According to Section 44AB?

The requirement for a tax audit, as per Section 44AB, is applicable to the following categories of businesses and professionals. Businesses with total sales, turnover, or gross receipts exceeding ₹10 crore in the preceding year, provided that:

  • Cash receipts constitute less than 5% of the gross receipts or turnover
  • Cash payments are less than 5% of the total aggregate payments

Professionals whose gross receipts from their profession surpass ₹50 lakh in the previous financial year.

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Procedure of Tax Audit in India 

The following steps are involved in a Tax Audit:

Step 1: Auditor Selection

The initial stage involves choosing a tax auditor, which can be either the company’s Chartered Accountant or an IRS office official.

Step 2: Form Filing and Document Submission

Subsequently, the necessary form must be filed, and essential documents should be submitted to the selected tax auditor.

Step 3: Document Verification by Auditor

Once the required documents are submitted, the auditor meticulously verifies all pertinent details and examines each document provided by the taxpayer. The auditor may also request additional documents to gain a clearer understanding of the taxpayer’s transactions.

Step 4: Audit Report Preparation

Following a thorough document review, the auditor proceeds to prepare the audit report, which serves as evidence of the taxpayer’s compliance with tax regulations.

Type of Accounts Come Under Tax Audit

  • Individual/Proprietorship
  • Hindu Undivided Family
  • Company
  • Partnership Firm
  • Association of Person
  • Local Authority

Documents Required for Tax Audit

  • Letter of Management’s Declarations
  • Document for Outlining Scope of Appointment
  • Inventory of Connected Parties and Transactions
  • Trial Balance Sheet
  • Financial Statements Authenticated by Owners
  • Adherence to Legal Obligations
  • Details of Liabilities, Including Potential Contingencies
  • Explanatory Notes on Business Nature
  • Computation of Depreciation
  • Evidence of Expenses Converted to Capital and Asset Acquisitions
  • Identification and Reporting of Extraordinary Items
  • Verification of Bank Balances
  • Bank Account Statements
  • Confirmation of Significant Accounts Receivable and Payable Balances
  • Inventory Valuation and Quantitative Movement Analysis for the Entire Year
  • Account Notes and Explanation of Accounting Principles
  • Sample Purchase and Sales Invoices
  • Analytical Assessment of Ratios

Types of Tax Audit

There are three main types of tax audits, each with its level of complexity and involvement:

  • Correspondence Audit: This is the simplest form of tax audit, initiated by the IRS through a letter. The letter requests specific information related to particular aspects of your tax return
  • Office Audit: An office audit involves a more detailed examination. The auditor will ask numerous questions and may require a substantial portion of your time. If necessary, the IRS might provide extra time for you to gather and furnish the requested information
  • Field Audit: Considered more extensive than an office audit, a field audit involves IRS representatives visiting the taxpayer’s residence or place of business. They may inquire about various aspects of your financial matters, and their scrutiny is not limited to specific items.
Note: On 18 September 2023, the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) issued a notification, extending the tax audit deadline for the assessment year (AY) 2023-24 to 31 October 2023. This extension grants taxpayers who are obligated to undergo account audits additional time to complete and submit their income tax returns.

Penalty of Non Filing or Delay In Filing Tax Audit Report

In cases where a taxpayer fails to have their accounts audited or submit the audit report, the Assessing Officer holds the authority to impose penalties under Section 271B. The minimum penalty stands at 0.5% of the total sales, turnover, or gross receipts, with an upper limit of ₹1,50,000. However, exceptions are made if the taxpayer can provide reasonable justifications for their non-compliance. Some acceptable reasons include:

  1. Delays arising from the death or physical incapacity of the partner responsible for maintaining accounts
  2. Delays caused by the resignation of the tax auditor
  3. Delays attributed to labour disputes like strikes or lockouts
  4. Natural disasters that hinder compliance
  5. Delays resulting from the loss of accounts due to unforeseeable events such as theft or fire, provided these incidents were beyond the taxpayer’s control.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How many tax audit reports can a CA authorise?

A Chartered Accountant (CA) can affix their signature to a maximum of 60 tax audit reports. If the CA is part of a firm, this restriction applies individually to each partner within the firm.

2. Why is a Tax Audit Essential?

The primary objective of a Tax Audit is to ensure that accounting records comply with the provisions of the Income Tax Act. It also guarantees the accurate presentation of financial statements to Assessing Officers.

3. What occurs if discrepancies are detected during an audit?

Typically, if any discrepancies are identified in the financial records, the CA will rectify them. However, failing to rectify errors may lead to penalties, potentially resulting in higher tax obligations.

4. What if I undergo an audit and lack receipts?

During an audit, if you are unable to produce receipts, the auditor may consider alternative documentation. Failure to provide any supporting documents may result in the auditor not accepting the entry in the financial records.

5. Who is obligated to undergo a tax audit?

Any business with a total sales turnover exceeding ₹1 crore is mandated to undergo a compulsory tax audit conducted by a Chartered Accountant (CA). In the case of professions, if the gross receipts surpass ₹50 lakhs, a tax audit by a Chartered Accountant is also obligatory.


In this comprehensive guide on how to navigate the intricate process of a tax audit, we’ve explored the critical steps and strategies to ensure a smooth and successful experience. It’s evident that meticulous record-keeping, transparency, and compliance with tax laws are paramount in minimising audit risks and securing your financial well-being.

As you embark on your journey towards tax compliance and peace of mind, consider Vakilsearch as your trusted partner. With a wealth of expertise and a commitment to helping you achieve financial integrity, our taxation services are designed to streamline the audit process and guide you through the complexities of taxation. From record maintenance to expert advice and assistance in handling documentation discrepancies, Vakilsearch offers comprehensive solutions tailored to your needs.

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