You may well let out a whoop of exhilaration after filing your tax return: it’s a well-merited response, considering the consequences of missing your paperwork deadline – and the relief of filing it in time. But what if that relief is short-lived, and you then find that you have committed some errors or made some omissions while filing your return? Or what if the department finds a mistake in your return or demands more taxes? Your obligation to the taxman is not fully over until the department processes your return and agrees with your numbers. Here’s what you need to be vigilant about after filing your returns, and here’s how you can rectify any errors you may have made.
Revision of returns
It is possible that you may have committed some errors in the rush to file your tax return on time. For instance, you may have forgotten to add interest income from some of the fixed deposits you hold. On the other hand, you may have forgotten to claim deductions for certain donations you may have made. Alternatively, you may have entered the details of self-assessment tax paid wrongly. Tax laws provide for a way to set these mistakes right by allowing you to revise your returns.
Until last year, you were allowed to revise your return for one year from the end of the assessment year. But from FY 2017-18 onwards, you can revise your return only until the end of that assessment year. Thus for FY2017-18, you have time to revise your return only until March 31, 2019. There is no specific return form or a separate procedure to file a revised return. You just have to refile your return with the corrected data through the department’s website (incometaxindiaefiling.gov.in).
You have to mention in the first page that the return is a revised one. The e-filing acknowledgement number of the original return and the date of filing of the original return also need to be mentioned alongside. There is no ceiling on the number of times a return can be revised. The latest one will be considered by the department for processing. But while revising the return, you must keep in mind that returns are open for revision only until the department processes it.
Typically, as and when the return is processed, you will receive an intimation from the tax department under Section 143(1). The Centralised Processing Centre in Bengaluru sends out this intimation to your e-mail address a few months after filing — usually by October/November of the assessment year. So even though on paper you may have plenty of time to revise your return, you must act quickly if you feel your return warrants a revision, as you actually have a window of only a few months. Also, keep in mind that the chances of your return being picked up for closer scrutiny may be higher if the revisions lead to big changes in taxes.
Those who file their return later than the original deadline for filing returns (otherwise known as ‘late filing’) can also revise their returns if they find some errors later on.
Keeping fingers crossed
You may be confident about the accuracy and completeness of your return. But the chapter isn’t closed until the department agrees with your tax assessment. For one thing, you may get a notice drawing attention to a defective return under Section 139 (9). Earlier, returns were considered defective if assesses missed out on attachments such as calculation of the total income, the tax computation and proof of self-assessment tax payment or if the form was not filled completely. Now, since returns are annexure-free and are filed in electronic format, the chances of such errors are minimised. Nevertheless, if you do get a notice under 139(9), you have 15 days’ time from the date of intimation to rectify the defect and refile your return.
In addition, the department may find that you have missed declaring an income or that you have claimed certain deductions for which you may not be eligible, or that there is a tax credit mismatch. It may point these out in the notice under section 143(1), which it sends out after you file your return, and raise a demand. If you agree with it, you need to pay the additional dues within 30 days of receipt of the intimation. Otherwise, if you find any mistakes in the department’s assessment, you can request for ‘rectification’ on the IT department’s website.
A request for rectification can be filed within four years from the end of the financial year in which the order sought to be rectified is received. If you have filed your return using an e-return intermediary website or taken the services of a Chartered Accountant, they can help you with the correction/rectification process.