While rejecting representations by tax consultants and professionals, the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has refused to grant any further extension of the due dates for filing the tax audit report (TAR) under Section 44AB of the Income-Tax (I-T) Act. CBDT says the process cannot be delayed 'indefinitely', which would hamper functioning of the tax department and welfare programmes of the government. At present, the last date for filing TAR has been extended to 15th January and for filing the return for TAR to 15 February 2021.
Last week on 8th January, the Gujarat High Court, while hearing a case filed by the All India Gujarat Federation of Tax Consultants, had asked the Union ministry of finance to look into the issue of extension of due dates for the filing of TAR, more particularly the 12 October 2020 representation from the Federation and to take an appropriate decision in accordance with the law.
However, in its order issued on Monday, the CBDT stated that it had already extended the date of filing the returns for tax audit cases to 15 February 2021.
"As per the provisions of the Act the due date for filing the tax audit report under section 44AB is one month prior to the due date of filing of the income tax return (ITR). Therefore, the said due date was extended to 31 October 2020 vide the Taxation and Other Laws (Relaxation and Amendment of Certain Provisions) Act, 2020, to 31 December 2020 vide notification s.o. 3906(E) dated 29 October, 2020 and further to 15 January 2020 vide notification s.o. 4805 (E) dated 31 December 2020," the Board says in its order.
CBDT says, a look at the relaxation of a similar nature provided by other economies globally makes it clear that the Indian government has been very empathetic to the needs of the taxpayers compared with various other countries.
"...no other country has extended the due dates as much as India. Even countries which are comparatively worse hit by COVID-19, like the US, and UK have provided lesser extensions, or none, in due dates," it added.
According to CBDT, the due dates for the filing of returns or tax audit have already been extended on three occasions. "Internationally, the extension provided by India is more generous as compared to other countries. The return filing statistics of the current year indicates that returns filed in this financial year already far exceeds the returns filed which were due on the last date of filing of returns."
"Any further extension would adversely affect the return filing discipline and would also cause injustice to those who have taken pains to file the return before the due date. It would also postpone the collection of revenue, thereby hampering the efforts of the government to provide relief to the poor during these COVID times," the Board says in its order while rejecting all representations seeking further extension of the due dates.