Income tax Return Filing – Why it is Important to file ITR on time?

Income tax return filing
Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay

If you are among those who feel that, if the bank has deducted TDS on your bank deposits and also the employer has deducted taxes from your salary, you need not file ITR, or You can file the Income-tax return at ease since all the taxes have already been paid, then this article is for you.

(Also Read: 20 Money Mistakes you should avoid making)

Income tax Act has specified certain situations when it is mandatory to file ITR. In fact, besides the mandatory requirement, filing ITR on time has many benefits as well and non-filing may attract penalties and interest on taxes, if unpaid. In extreme cases of tax evasion, it may lead to scrutiny from the Income Tax Department too. 

In normal times, the last date of Filing ITR is 31st July of the relevant Assessment Year, for individuals and HUF and 30th September of the relevant AY for corporates.

Covid induced lockdown has led the government to extend the deadline to file belated Income-tax Return for FY 2018-19 (AY 2019-20) to 30th September 2020. This is the third change. First, it was shifted to 30th June, then 31st July, and now 30th September. It is again changed to 30th November 2020 on 30th September. 

Also, the normal tax filing due date for FY 2019-20 (AY 2020-21) has been changed to 30th November 2020 as well. On 24th October, it has been extended to 31st December 2020 for individual tax-payers, and for corporates (who are required to get their accounts audited), the deadline is shifted to 31st Jan 2021.

Yes, the lockdown has impacted our lives badly and delayed lots of important chores. But it would not be a wise decision to wait until the last minute to file your ITR without any genuine reasoning or hardships behind.

When is IncomeTax Return Filing mandatory?

As per Income Tax rules, it is mandatory for you to file Income Tax Return, if your gross total income (before adjusting deductions under sections 80C to 80U) exceeds the basic threshold limit i.e. Rs 2.50 lakh for Individual, Rs 3 lakh for Senior Citizen and Rs 5 lakh for Super Senior Citizen. This is Required even if the tax liability is NIL.

In Budget 2021, senior citizens above 75 years of age, having only interest and pension income are given relaxation in filing Income Tax return.

He/she would be required to fill and submit some specified forms, to specified banks which will calculate the tax liability (after adjusting Chapter VI A Deductions, and rebate u/s 87A) and deduct TDS. 

(Also Read: Old or New Tax Slabs, which one to choose?)

Apart from this, ITR Filing is also compulsory in the following circumstances:

  • To set-off and carry forward any loss of the previous years- Yes, if you have booked some capital losses in a year that could not be set off with any taxable gain in the same year, then that can be carried forward and set off with the future taxable gains. (Read: How to set off and Carry Forward Losses)

In Budget 2019 few more criteria were inserted for compulsory ITR Filing:

  • If your electricity bill in any year exceeds Rs.1 lakh
  • If you have spent Rs. 2 lakh or more on a foreign vacation, on self or others.
  • If you have deposited an amount or aggregate of the amounts exceeding Rs 1 crore in one or more current accounts.

Benefits of filing Income Tax Return on time (i.e. before the due date):

The below infographic lists the benefits of ITR filing on time:

Income Tax Return Filing Benefits (infographics)

What happens, if IncomeTax Return Filing is delayed or missed?

If the return is filed after the due date, it is called belated return. You can file a belated return only till the end of the assessment year, i.e. upto 31st march of the next year.

In Budget 2021, it was proposed to reduce it by 3 months i.e. upto 31st December of the next year.

For e.g. if these were not the covid times, then the last date to file IT return for FY 2018-19 would be 31.07.2019 (which actually was extended for a month then). However, you would be allowed to file ITR even after that but only till 31.03.2020, but with some penalties and interest on the unpaid taxes, which is now extended to 30th September 2020. 

a) If you owe zero tax: 

If you are unable to file your Income Tax Return before due date, it can be filed later but with a penalty of-

  • Rs. 5,000 if filed after the due date, but before 31st December;
  • Rs. 10,000 if filed between 1st January-March 31st. 

However, if your income is below Rs. 5 lakhs, then the maximum penalty would be Rs.1,000.

b) If you owe tax as well: 

If there are unpaid taxes as well, along with the penalty mentioned above additional 1% simple interest per month (section 234A of the Income Tax Act) from the due date till the return filing date, will be charged.

So, for example, you have outstanding tax payable of Rs.10,000 and filed your tax return, 3 months after the due date, you will have to pay interest penalty of 3% (1% per month x 3 months) on the balance tax amount of Rs. 10,000, i.e. Rs. 300, along with the penalty of Rs. 5,000.

IncomeTax Return Filing- Final Words:

As a responsible citizen of the country, It is the duty of every earning individual to file income tax return. 

Although not mandatory, if your income is below exemption limit, but it is advisable to file ITR, every year before the due date even if your income falls below the minimum exemption limit, or you have already paid your taxes due.

(Also Read: 21 Good Money Habits for a Great Financial Life!)

It would not only help avoid penalties but you can also reap various benefits as discussed in the infographics.

Have any Questions? Feel Free to ask in the comments section below.

Also check: Which ITR form you should use to file your Income-tax return?


  1. My wife has an interest income from Fixed deposit amounting to Rs 52000. Previously Bank did not ask for 15 H in case interest is below 50000. With automatic inclusion of standard deduction Rs 40000 should bank deduct TDS upto Rs90000(50000+40000) or not


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