ITR due date extension-Kerala High Court asks assesses to file application u/s 119(2)(a)/119(2)(b), CBDT to hold camps in Kerala to consider them
ABCAUS Case Law Citation:
ABCAUS 2688 (2018) (12) HC
The grievance of the petitioners (Alwaye Chartered Accountants’ Association, the lead case) was essentially against the announcement by the Income Tax Department, that the last date for filing returns for the assessment year 2018-2019, in the case of Kerala based assessees, who had to comply with the requirements of statutory audit in terms of Section 44AB of the Income Tax Act, 1961 (the Act), was 31.10.2018.
It was stated that, although the due date for filing of returns for such assessees under Section 139(1) of the Act was 30.9.2018, the Department had, taking note of the flood situation that affected the State in August 2018, suo motu extended the last date for filing the returns to 31.10.2018. The case of the petitioners, however, was that the mere extension by one month of the due date under Section 139(1) would not suffice, and insofar as assessees had encountered difficulties in the matter of finalising the audit of accounts under Section 44AB, and incorporation of those audited accounts in the return that had to be filed, the Department ought to have extended the time for filing returns in terms of Section 139(1) of the Act at least till 31.12.2018.
The Hon’ble High Court opined that while the specific grievances of the assessees in
individual cases can be dealt with by the CBDT through a consideration of the
applications filed by the assessees concerned in terms of Section 119(2)(a)/119(2)(b)
of the Act,
The High Coirt stated that a general direction for extending the due date for filing returns under Section 139(1) of the Act cannot be issued to the Income Tax Department by entertaining these Public Interest Litigations. To issue such directions would be contrary to the scheme of the Act.
In view of the above, the and in the absence of any material to indicate the nature of applications that were considered by the CBDT, the Court opined that there not had been any discrimination meted out to the assessees in Kerala merely on account of the fact that in Jammu & Kashmir, there was an exercise of power by the CBDT, which led to the extension of last date for filing returns for a longer duration.
The Hon’ble High Court gave the following directions:
(1) In respect of those assessees who, on account of the difficulties faced by them, have not been able to file a return making a claim for deductions, exemptions or refunds, they shall be permitted to make an application under Section 119(2)(b) before the CBDT outlining the difficulties faced by them and making a prayer for extension of time for making the claim for deduction. The application shall be preferred within two weeks from the date of receipt of a copy of this judgment. This would effectively be an application seeking extension of time for filing the return itself since it is the return that would contain the claim for deduction, exemption or refund. The applications received by the CBDT shall be considered by the CBDT, taking note of the flood situation that affected the State of Kerala, and orders shall be passed thereon within an outer time limit of two months from the date of receipt of the applications by the CBDT, after affording an opportunity of hearing to the assessee concerned.
(2) In the case of those assessees, who are aggrieved by the interest accrued on delayed payment of tax under the Act and who have already filed their returns either before 31.10.2018 or belatedly thereafter, such assessees are permitted to prefer applications in terms of Section 119(2)(a) before the CBDT within two weeks from the date of receipt of a copy of this judgment and on such applications being received from the assessees, they shall be considered by the CBDT for waiver of interest/penalty, taking note of the flood situation in Kerala and appropriate orders shall be passed thereon in accordance with law after hearing the assessees, within two months from the date of receipt of the applications from the assesses.
(3) Taking note of the fact that the assessees who file applications pursuant to this judgment, will likely be residents in Kerala State, the CBDT may consider holding a camp sitting in Kerala for the purposes of considering the aforesaid applications of the assessees, in the peculiar factual circumstances that obtain in these Writ Petitions.