Odisha Advocates’ Body Issues Legal Notice To CBDT For Not Extending ITR Deadline

Bhubaneswar: The All Odisha Tax Advocates Association (AOTAA) has issued a legal notice to the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) for not extending deadline for filing income tax return (ITR) for the assessment year 2021-2022 and imposing late filing fee in spite of technical glitches in the new portal of the Income Tax Department.

The legal notice stated that though the old portal of the IT Department was working flawlessly and it was user friendly, the Finance Ministry entrusted Infosys Ltd to develop the new portal after the beginning of the assessment year 2021-2022. As per earlier directions of the High Courts, the CBDT failed to upload schema of the returns forms in the portal in time.

The notice 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 hanged 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 the deadline of December 31, 2021.

The AOTAA also mentioned the following reasons for which the taxpayers of the state could not file their ATRs before the deadline:

  • The association in a letter on December 27, 2021 had raised the sufferings of the assessees of Odisha like frequent cyclones, rain due to low pressure, poor internet network and electricity facility, COVID pandemic, non-cooperation from banks in getting transaction statements.
  • Before filing the ITR, it takes more time to verify the Form No.26-AS, AIS and TIS etc. In most cases, the AIS data were not available to be downloaded due to server issues. Further, in most of the cases, there was a lot of mismatch in the information reported in TIS 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 ITRs.
  • The government has no kiosks or helpdesks to facilitate the assessees to file their ITRs and the assessees were not educated by government to file online.
  • The return forms have been made so complicated that it took hours to fill up the same by the income tax professionals. The condition was even more dreadful in cases of the assesses who wanted to file their own ITRs.
  • At times, the screen page in the portal vanishes without any reason and the technical glitches are that it cannot be described in words.
  • The assessees from various parts of India including Odisha had requested CBDT to extend the due date in order to file the ITR within time allowed under the statute, but the same were not accepted.
  • The day before the deadline on December 31, 2021, the principal secretary (Revenue), Ministry of Finance in a press meet intimated that the time limit for filing the ITRs would not be extended.
  • Many assessees submitted some of the papers with the Income Tax professionals but their returns could not be filed in time for which the said the professionals will be paying late filing fee (u/s. 234F) on behalf of the assessees.

Under the circumstances, there is an urgent need to extend the dates of filling ITRs and the Tax Audit Reports to a suitable date so as to allow reasonable time for the taxpayers and professionals to comply with the mandatory statutory compliances, the notice stated and demanded that the levy of late filing fees on the assessees u/s.234F should be postponed till March 31, 2022.

“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 March 31, 2022, our Association would be constrained to file a PIL in the Orissa High Court 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. The entire cost of litigation would also be borne by you,” the notice said.

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