To ensure that assesses file their income tax return (ITR) on time, the provision of late fee up to Rs 10,000 was introduced in the Union Budget 2017. Accordingly, section 234F has been inserted in the Income Tax Act relating to fee for default in furnishing return of income.
As per the provisions u/s 23F, furnishing of a return of income after the due date but on or before December 31 of the assessment year would attract a late of Rs 5,000 and a fee of Rs 10,000 in any other case. But in cases where total income does not exceed Rs 5 lakh, the fee amount won’t exceed Rs 1,000.
“The provisions of Section 234F under the Income Tax Act, 1961 (‘the IT Act’) provide for levy of penalty in case of the taxpayer assesse filing the return beyond the due date as mentioned in Section 139(1) of the IT Act. The quantum of such penalty constitutes Rs 5,000 in case the return is filed till 31 December of the assessment year and would be enhanced to Rs 10,000 for filing the return beyond such date. Moreover, in case of such taxpayers whose total income does not exceed Rs 5 lakh, such late filing fee would be restricted to Rs 1000,” says Dr. Suresh Surana, Founder, RSM India.
Normally, unless extended, the due date of filing ITR for individuals / HUF / organisations, where audit is not needed is July 31 of the assessment year and where audit is needed, the due date is September 30.
However, the Covid-19 pandemic and the nationwide lockdown imposed to contain the spread of the virus have resulted in extension of deadline for various tax compliance including the due date of filing ITR for the Assessment Year (AY) 2020-21.
As a result, instead of July 31, 2020, the due date of filing return was first extended up to November 30, 2020, then to December 31, 2020 and finally to January 10, 2021.
While the late fee up to Rs 5,000 is charged from the end of due date till December 31 of the financial year, it gets doubled after that.
So, how much fine would you need to pay on missing the extended due date of January 10, 2021?
“The CBDT has extended the due date for tax return filing in case of assesses to whom audit is not applicable to 10th January 2020, however, there was no consequent relaxation provided in case of late filing fees u/s 234F. Any assessee filing the return till January 10, 2020, to whom such due date is applicable would not be subjected to late filing fees u/s 234F of the IT Act. However, any delay beyond January 10, 2020 would attract a penalty of Rs 10,000 u/s 234F,” says Dr. Surana.
So, not Rs 5,000, but the double late fee would be charged straightway, if you miss the due date of January 10, 2021 (unless extended further) if you fail to file your ITR for AY 2020-21 by that time.