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How to file Income Tax Return for Previous Years? Belated Return under Section 139(4)

Updated: 5 days ago


How to file Income Tax Return for Previous year?
How to file Income Tax Return for Previous year?

Filing the income tax return (ITR) is an important annual exercise that should be adhered to duly. What if you fail to do so? Perhaps you have misplaced the important document or the ITR filing process is very difficult for you, or you just failed to remember ITR filing. It is really important for you to realize that all is not lost. Under Section 139(4) of the Income Tax Act, you can file a belated return. It offers a second chance to comply with the tax laws without severe penalties.

 

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This article will help you pay up lost time in filing the income tax return for the last financial year. It will show you from understanding what is the consequence of late filing to the step-by-step process which will easily get you out of the mess in your tax filing without any high penalty dues.


To file a belated ITR, follow the below steps:


  • Login to the income tax e-filing portal.

  • Select the ITR form that matches your pay, deductions, and exemptions.

  • Input your income, tax details, and other mandatory information in the ITR form.

  • Ensure ‘Return filed under section 139(4)’ under ‘Filing Status.’

  • Make applicable tax and interest payments, mentioning the details in the ITR form.

  • Authenticate and upload the ITR form online or offline.


Why to File ITR for Previous Years?

One must treat the ITR filing not just a matter of fundamental statutory obligation but also as a core value of financial discipline. It is like reporting your income to the government where you declare your deductions, payment of taxes, and even refunds in other words, a paper-based financial report. But what if you missed filing your ITR for a specific year? Not to worry! In some conditions, a belated ITR for past years can be filed.

Under the Income Tax Act, filing of a belated return is allowed for any previous year at any time before the end of the assessment year, or before the completion of the income examination for that assessment year, whichever is earlier.

In addition to this, even if you did file your ITR within the stipulated time frame and later realized errors in it, a "revised ITR" can be filed in order to correct such mistakes or any items missed out. Filing ITRs for previous years isn't just about compliance; it is also important when claiming refunds, carrying forward losses, or maintaining your finances in an orderly manner. So manage all your tax-filing jobs on time and in the most efficient manner to stay ahead.


Essential Documents for Filing ITR for Previous Years

Before you start filing your ITR for previous years,  you need to gather some essential documents and prepare yourself for the process. Some of the papers that you may need are:

  • PAN card

  • Aadhaar card

  • Bank statements

  • Form 16/16A/16B

  • Form 26AS

  • Investment proofs

  • Expense receipts

  • Loan statements

  • Capital gains statements

  • Other income proofs

You also need to register yourself on the income tax e-filing portal and login with your user ID (PAN) and password. You must also link your Aadhaar with your PAN if you have not done so already. You can also use the e-filing login portal,  which is a free and easy way to file your ITR online. 

You also need to choose the proper ITR form for filing your ITR for previous years,  depending on your income sources, deductions, and exemptions. You can refer to the income tax website for more details on the different types of ITR forms and their eligibility criteria. 


Choosing the Right ITR Form

The Indian government has various forms for individuals to declare their income and pay taxes. The appropriate form depends on the type of income and its sources.

There are seven types of primary forms:

  1. ITR-1: If you get money from your job, pension,  one house,  or other sources (but not from winning the lottery or horse racing) and your total income is less than Rs.  Fifty lakhs,  you can use this form. You can only file it online. 

  2. ITR-2: For people and families who get money from their job, pension, more than one house, investments,  and other sources (including winning the lottery or horse racing). You can feel it online or offline. 

  3. ITR-3: If you earn money from a business or profession, along with other sources,  use this form. You can feel it online or offline. 

  4. ITR-4: If you, your family,  or your business earn money under a special tax rule and the total income is less than Rs 50 lakhs, use this form. You can file it online only. 

  5. ITR-5: For groups like LLPs, AOPs, BOIs,  and cooperative societies,  but not individuals, families, or big companies. You can feel it online or offline. 

  6. ITR-6: Only for companies,  not those that don't pay taxes because they are charitable or religious trusts. You can file it online only. 

  7. ITR-7: For people or companies that must file taxes under specific sections. This includes charitable trusts, political parties, research institutions,  and news agencies. You can feel it online or offline. 


Verifying and Submitting ITR for the Previous Year

 When you want to tell the government about the money you earned last year; you need to fill out a form called ITR.  First,  pick the proper form.  Then,  enter all the important details,  like your personal info,  how much money you made,  and things like taxes and deductions.  Double-check that the info already there is correct,  such as your PAN number or Aadhaar.  You can use Form 26AS to make sure the right amount of tax was taken from your income.  There are online tools,  like the income tax calculator,  to estimate how much tax you owe or if you get money back.  

After filling everything out,  send your ITR to the government. You can do it online or on paper, depending on the form you choose. If you do it online, you can upload a file or type in the information directly. Make sure your ITR is correct by using one of these methods:

  • Aadhaar OTP: Use a one-time password sent to your phone. 

  • Net banking: Login to your bank account and click on e-verify. 

  • Bank ATM: Use your debit card at an ATM and choose e-verify. 

  • Bank account: Use your bank details if your bank is allowed. 

  • Demat account: Use your demat account if it's allowed. 

  • EVC: Use a code sent to your email or phone. 

  • Digital signature: Use a special certificate. 


Benefits of Filing ITR for Previous Years

Filing your Income Tax Return (ITR) for past years can bring many advantages. If you overpaid taxes or had tax deducted (TDS) in the previous year, filing your ITR can get you a refund,  but remember there's a time limit. Losses in business, profession, or capital gains can be carried forward to offset future income, but only if you file your ITR on time.  If you make a mistake in your original ITR, no worries; you can correct it by filing a revised ITR within the set time to avoid penalties or interest.  This applies not only to self-initiated revisions but also if the tax department notifies you of any discrepancies. 

Maintaining a good tax record is crucial. Filing ITR for past years helps you comply with tax regulations, easy visa approvals, easy loan approvals, and more. It also reduces the chances оf the tax department scrutinizing or investigating your finances. So, don't miss the deadline and enjoy these benefits!


Avoiding Penalties and Legal Consequences

Filing your Income Tax Return (ITR) on time is essential. If you miss the deadline or make mistakes, you could face problems. Here's what you need to know:

  • Late Filing Fee: If you file after the deadline,  there's a fee. It's Rs. 5,000 before December 31 and Rs. 10,000 later. If your income is below Rs.  5 lakhs,  the fee is Rs. 1, 000. 

  • Interest: Filing late means paying 1% interest per month on the tax amount due or refundable from the due date until you file. 

  • Penalty: Not filing may lead to a Rs. 5,000 penalty,  but if you have a good reason,, like illness,  the penalty might not apply. 

  • Prosecution: Avoiding ITR may lead to imprisonment and a fine,  but not if your income is low or you file before the assessment year ends. 

To sum up,  filing on time is crucial to avoid extra payments,  penalties,  and legal troubles.


Understanding Interest on Refund: Impact of Timely vs. Belated return

Interest on Refund: When filing the Income Tax Return (ITR) on or before the due date, taxpayers are entitled to receive interest on the refund amount. This interest is calculated at the rate of 0.5% per month, starting from April 1 until the date of refund. However, if the return is filed after the due date (i.e., a belated return), the interest on the refund will be computed from the date of filing the ITR to the actual date of the refund. It is crucial for taxpayers to be aware of these interest calculations to understand the impact of timely ITR filing and the potential loss of interest in the case of belated returns. Let's explore the intricacies of interest in refunds and ensure taxpayers are well-informed about this aspect of the tax-filing process.


Disadvantages of Filing Belated Return: Impact and Consequences

  1. Interest Applicability: Under sections 234A, 234B, and 234C, interest may be levied on belated returns. This interest is calculated based on the delay in filing the return and can add to the overall tax liability.

  2. Late Fee Charges: Section 234F mandates the imposition of a late fee when filing a belated return. The penalty for filing a belated income tax return is determined based on the taxpayer's gross total income. If the gross total income is up to Rs 2.5 lakh, no penalty is applicable for filing the return after the due date. For individuals with a gross total income between Rs 2.5 lakh and Rs 5 lakh, a late fee of Rs 1,000 is levied. On the other hand, for taxpayers with a gross total income exceeding Rs 5 lakh, the late fee increases to Rs 5,000.

  3. Disallowed Deductions/Exemptions: Delayed ITR filing may lead to the disallowance of specific deductions and exemptions, impacting tax-saving benefits. Deductions under sections 10A, 10B, 80-IA, 80-IB, 80-IC, 80-ID, and 80-IE are allowed only if the ITR is filed before the original deadline.

  4. Loss Carry-Forward Limitations: If you file a loss return after the due date, certain losses, such as business and capital losses, cannot be carried forward for set-off in subsequent years. However, an exception exists for losses from house property, which can still be carried forward even if the return is filed late.


Conclusion

Filing your Income Tax Return (ITR) for past years is not just a rule; it's something you have to do,  and it's essential for your money matters. When you file your ITR for previous years,  it's like taking care of your financial duties.  Doing this helps you get back the money you might have overpaid,  fix any mistakes you made,  and keep a good record of following tax rules.  

If you haven't file your ITR for the past years,  you could face problems like paying extra money as penalties or interest. There might be legal issues, too. By filing your ITR on time and correctly,  you can avoid unnecessary troubles while filing for ITR returns. 

But there are also some downsides to filing late. You might lose out on certain money-saving options,  and your refunds could be delayed. Tax authorities may also take a closer look at your finances. 

Simply put,  it's an excellent idea to file your ITR for past years as soon as possible.  This way,  you can enjoy the benefits and avoid any problems that come your way.  


FAQs:

Q1 What are the penalties for filing a belated income tax return based on the gross total income?

The penalty for filing a belated income tax return varies based on the taxpayer's gross total income. For those with a gross total income of up to Rs 2.5 lakh, there is no penalty. For individuals with a gross total income between Rs 2.5 lakh and Rs 5 lakh, the penalty is Rs 1,000. And for taxpayers with a gross total income exceeding Rs 5 lakh, the penalty increases to Rs 5,000.


Q2 Are there any exceptions for filing a belated return? How do losses from house property differ in this regard?

While there is no exception for filing a belated return after the due date, taxpayers should be aware that certain losses, such as business and capital losses, cannot be carried forward for set-off in subsequent years if the return is filed after the due date. However, an exception exists for losses from house property, which can still be carried forward even if the return is filed late.


Q3 What are the consequences of not filing the income tax return on time?

If you fail to file your income tax return by the due date, which is typically July 31, you will be considered a "belated filer." As a belated filer, you may be subject to interest under sections 234A, 234B, and 234C, which can add to your overall tax liability. Additionally, a late fee will be applicable based on your gross total income as per the late fee structure.


Q4 How can I avoid penalties and late fees for belated returns? What steps can be taken to ensure timely compliance with income tax filing deadlines?

To avoid penalties and late fees for belated returns, it is crucial to file your income tax return on or before the due date. Be diligent in organizing your financial documents and prepare the necessary information well in advance. If you anticipate any delays in filing, consider seeking assistance from a tax professional to ensure timely compliance and avoid any unnecessary financial burden.


Q5 Can I file Income Tax Returns for the previous three years?

Yes,  you can file Income Tax Returns (ITR) for the previous three years. It's essential to do so to avoid fines and legal issues. Ensure you gather all necessary documents and follow the proper procedure to submit accurate returns for each year. 


Q6 How do I submit my Income Tax Return (ITR) for previous years?

To submit your ITR for previous years,  collect income-related documents,  use the correct forms,  and visit the official tax portal. Fill in the required details,  upload supporting documents,  and complete the filing process online. Double-check for accuracy to avoid complications.  


Q7 How do I go about filing my taxes for the past years?

Filing taxes for past years involves collecting income documents,  choosing the appropriate forms,  and using the online tax portal. Input accurate financial details for each relevant year and submit the return. It's advisable to seek assistance if needed and file before the deadline to prevent penalties. 


Q8 Can I file my Income Tax return myself without a CA?

Yes,  you can file your Income Tax return without a Chartered Accountant (CA). Use the online tax portal,  select the relevant forms,  and follow the step-by-step instructions. Ensure accuracy in reporting income and deductions. If you're unsure,  you can seek guidance from online resources or consider professional assistance. 


Q9 What happens if an incorrect ITR is filed?

Filing an incorrect ITR may lead to penalties and legal complications. It's crucial to review all details before submission. If errors are detected later,  file a revised return promptly. Taking preventive measures and ensuring accuracy in the initial filing process help avoid unnecessary consequences. 


Q10 How do you file ITR for the previous year?

To file ITR for the previous year,  access the official tax portal,  select the relevant assessment year,  and follow the specified procedure. Provide accurate income and deduction details and submit supporting documents. Filing on time is crucial to avoid penalties and legal issues. 



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