According to the Income Tax Act 1961, Section 139 has been formulated to deal with the late filings of returns. If any individual or any non-person entity fails to file their tax returns within the specified deadline, then Section 139 provides the entity with the guidelines to file for the returns.
There are several subsections to Section 139.
Section 139 has the following cases were filing the Income Tax Return is mandatory –
• Every individual who has a total income that exceeds the exemption limit is liable to furnish the Income Tax Return within the due date
• Any public, public, a domestic or foreign country and/or doing business in India
• Any firm including Limited Liability Partners (LLP) or unlimited liability partnership
• Any resident who has an asset located outside of India OR any resident who retain signing authority for an account-based outside India, for all these cases Tax Return needs to be filed mandatorily in the prescribed form irrespective of the amount of tax liability on these incomes.
• Every HUF, AOP, and BOI – if the total income exceeds the exemption limit, they are required to file Income Tax Returns
• In case of an Individual Taxpayer, if any loss was incurred in the previous financial year then filing a tax return is not mandatory
• Tax return for loss is compulsory for companies and firms and the provisions are as follows:
• If the loss arises under the head “Profits and Gains of Business and Profession” or under the head ‘Capital Gains’. Tax return filing is mandatory in case the firm wants to carry forward this loss and offset with the future income. Availability of this option is only possible if the tax return indicating the loss is filed within the due date.
• In case the loss arises under the head “House or residential Property”, the loss could be carried forward even though the tax return is filed after the due date.
• If the loss is filed for return under Section 142(1), except for the loss under “House property”, other losses could not be carried forward. However, the unabsorbed depreciation could be carried forward for such cases.
• In case the loss is to be offset against some income in other categories for the same year, it is permitted to offset even though the return is filed after the due date.
• Loss of the earlier years could be carried forward if the return of losses for those years were filed with due dates and those losses were assessed.
The taxpayer (an individual or an entity) have to furnish the tax return before the due date as specified under the Section 139(1), or within the allowable time by a notice that is issued under the section 142(1). If they fail to do so, they may still file the belated return for any prior years any time until the expiry of one year that started from the end of the applicable year of assessment or before the conclusion of the assessment, whichever happens, earlier. However, the taxpayer might be charged with a penalty of ₹5,000, under Section 271F of IT Act 1961, in case the return is submitted after the pertinent assessment year.
In case the Income Tax Return was filed within due date but later the taxpayer realizes that there was some mistake or omission in the filing of the return, to correct these mistakes there is provision for the revised return of Income Tax under Section 139(5). However, a late or belated return is beyond the scope of this section and could not be revised.
A revised return could be filed any time within one year after the pertinent assessment year gets over OR prior to the completion of assessment – whichever is sooner. There is no restriction on the number of times that a tax return could be revised within the specified time frame.
The revision could be done either in the same and original Income Tax Return Form or in a different return Form. Once the new return is filed under Section 139(5), the original return that was done under Section 139(1) should be considered as withdrawn and the revised return will be validated.
Revised Return is allowed for unintentional mistakes only. Section 139(5) is specifically applicable to cases of ‘Omissions and Wrong Statements’ and not meant for ‘Concealment or False Statements’. For any intentional mistakes or omissions and for any fraudulent filing, a penalty will be imposed on the taxpayer.
The above are the mandatory intimations under section 139.
There are various other subsections which are out of the scope of this article. The required information is available on the web portal of the Income Tax Department.