AOTAA has asked for the ITR filing deadline to be extended as well as the late filing fee collected to be returned to the assessees.
The All Odisha Tax Advocates Association (AOTAA) has issued a legal notice to the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) for not extending ITR filing deadline of filing returns of assessees of Odisha for the Assessment Year 2021-2022 and imposing late filing fee under section 234F of the Income Tax Act, 1961, in spite of many technical glitches in the new portal of the Income Tax Department. (ET Wealth online has a copy of the legal notice.)
“Please take notice that after receipt of this letter if your good office doesn’t extend the due date for filing of Income Tax Returns as well as Tax Audit Reports to 31/03/2022, then our Association would be constrained to file PIL in the Hon’ble High Court of Orissa with a prayer to direct you to extend the due date for filing of return and Tax Audit Reports for the Assessment Year: 2021-2022 and return back the late filing fees collected u/s.234F of the Act,” stated the legal notice dated January 4, 2022.
According to the legal notice, “That although the old portal of the Income Tax Department was working flawlessly and it was user friendly, but the Union Finance Ministry entrusted M/s Infosys Ltd to develop the new portal after the beginning of the Assessment Year:2021-2022. That as per earlier directions of the Hon’ble High Courts CBDT failed to upload schema of the returns forms in the portal in time.”
The income tax return (ITR) filing deadline for FY 2020-21 (December 31, 2021) was not extended any further by the government. Even though the ITR filing deadline was extended twice for the financial year, many were not able to complete the exercise on time due to many glitches on the newly launched e-filing portal.
The legal notice also pointed out: That the new portal has been so designed that it takes maximum time to fill up the return forms and upload the same. In certain occasions, the portal was hanged in between filling the ITR forms, which caused inconveniences to the assessees for which the assessees as well as Tax Professionals faced a lot of difficulties in filing those forms by 31/12/2021.
These are the other points mentioned in the legal notice by AOTAA as to why the ITR deadline should be extended.
1.That in the request letter dated-27/12/2021 the aforesaid Association has raised other points of sufferings of the assessees of Odisha viz:- facing frequent cyclones, rain due to low pressure, poor internet and electricity facility, assessees as well as professionals suffering from COVID-19, non-cooperation from banks in getting transaction statements etc.
2. That before filing the return of income it takes more time to verify the Form No.26-AS, AIS and TIS etc. Pertinent to mention here that in most of the cases, the AIS data were not made available to be downloaded due to server issues. Further, in most of the cases, there is a lot of mismatch in the information reported in TIS as compared to the actual details and the same reported in Form No.26AS as well. This has resulted an additional burden on the taxpayers to reconcile the differences before filing the ITRs in order to ensure that there would be no further notices, unwarranted adjustments u/s.143(1) of the Act and unnecessary hassles post filing of the Income Tax Returns.
3. That the technical glitches in the new portal was the top most woo of the Tax Professionals as well as assesssees to file their return of income in time.
4. That the Government has no kiosks or helpdesks etc. to facilitate the assessees to file their return of income and at the same time the assessees were also not educated by the Government to file their return of income online.
5. That the return forms have been made so complicated that it took hours to fill up the same by the Tax Professionals. The condition was even more dreadful in cases of the assesses who wanted to file their own ITRs.
6. That the Infosys Ltd has developed the portal in such a new design so that at times the screen page vanishes without any reason and the technical glitches are that it cannot be described in words.
7. That the assessees from various parts of India including the State of Odisha requested your Honour to extend the due date in order to file the returns of income of the assessees within time allowed under the statute, but the same were not accepted.
8. That to the utter surprise, on the eve of 31st December, 2021, the Learned Principal Secretary (Revenue), Union Ministry of Finance in a Press Meet has intimated the tax payer community that time limit for filing the ITRs would not be extended.
9. That many assessees have submitted some of the papers with the Tax Professionals but their returns could not be filed in time for which the said Professionals will be paying late filing fee (u/s. 234F) to the Government on behalf of the assessees.
10. That there is an urgent need to extend the dates of filling Returns and the Tax Audit Reports to a suitable date so as to allow reasonable time for the Tax Payers and Professionals to comply with the mandatory statutory compliances.
11. That it is needless to mention here that, the levy of late filing fees on the assessees u/s.234F needs to be postponed till 31st March, 2022 in the above circumstances.