Home >Money >Personal Finance >Missed filing income tax return? Face penalty or even jail term

Did you know that the Income Tax (I-T) department allows you to file your ITR even after the due date? If you fail to pay by the deadline, you have the option to file the returns within the assessment year (AY), which is 2019-20. This means you can file a belated return till March 31, 2019, before the completion of assessment by the I-T department. However, it comes at a cost.

THE COST

If you file your return after the due date but before December 31 of the assessment year, you will have to pay 5,000 as penalty. If you file it between January 1 and March 31 of assessment year 2019-20, you will have to pay a late fee of 10,000. This penalty is applicable for individuals who have an income above 5 lakh. In case you file it between January 1 and March 31 of assessment year 2019-20 and your income is below 5 lakh, you have to pay a penalty of up to 1,000.

“Penalty is mandatory now. If you have missed the deadline, the tax returns can’t be filed unless you pay the penalty. This came into effect last year," said Prakash Hegde, a Bengaluru-based chartered accountant. If you have tax to pay, the I-T department will charge interest on the due tax amount along with the penalty amount. Under section 234A, interest is levied for delay in filing the return of income. Interest is levied at 1% per month or part of a month. The nature of interest is simple interest. In other words, the taxpayer is liable to pay simple interest at 1% per month or part of a month for delay in filing the return of income.

YOU CAN BE SENT TO JAIL

In case you fail to file your ITR altogether, the tax department can send you a notice and it can also lead to prosecution. The jail term can range from three months to two years if you fail to file your ITR. A term varies depending on the due tax amount. You can also get a jail term of up to seven years. “As per the law, prosecution proceeds can be initiated. However, if the return is filed before the end of the assessment year, the prosecution is not initiated.

Prosecution is an extreme step taken only if someone doesn’t file in the required assessment year and amount involved is huge, or if the individual has undeclared money. Sometimes it is initiated if the income tax officer has issued a notice and taxpayer has not responded or filed the returns. It happens in exceptional cases," said Hegde.

Considering that you will have to shell out a fee for late payment and can also face prosecution, it is advisable to file your returns on time. If you are not able to file your returns on your own, you can seek help from a chartered accountant, financial planner, financial advisor, or tax portals.

Remember that if you don’t file your returns on time, you will not be allowed to carry forward certain losses to subsequent years. You may also lose the interest on the refund amount in case of a delay in case applicable.

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