An encounter with the Income Tax Department is usually fraught with stress to say the least.
But hearing from the IT department need not always be a bad thing. Sometimes, you might be pleasantly surprised with news of some extra cash (with late fees) being refunded to you!
What to do when you receive an Income Tax notice?
1. First and foremost – keep calm and read the communication you received end to end. Work around the legalese and understand what exactly are they trying to tell you.
2. Check the basics
- Is it really your name on the notice?
- Is your PAN number mentioned correctly?
- Which assessment year is it meant for?
- Who is the issuing officer? What is their designation?
- Is there a document identification number? What is it?
3. Figure out the discrepancy
The new intimation format has 2 columns. Here’s what it looks like:
If a particular row shows different amounts in these two columns, that is the source of your discrepancy.
When can you expect to hear from the IT department?
1. TDS Amount Error
The most common issue with returns filed is often a mismatch in the TDS amounts. Sometimes your employer or deductor may have delayed or made a mistake filing their TDS returns.
If that is the problem with your return too, request your employer to revise the TDS amount credited to you.
2. Discrepancy in Return Filed by you
If the discrepancy is with the amounts declared by you in the returns you filed, try to understand the difference.
Differences may arise because:
- You may have forgotten to declare some incomes, like Interest from FDs
- You may have claimed a deduction under the wrong section
- You may have provided incomplete information
Remember, these notices are generated automatically by the Income Tax Department’s software.
Sometimes you may have filed everything correctly to the best of your knowledge, but still may have received a notice. It’s always good to have an expert look at your notice. Contact ClearTax for help.
Sometimes the IT department would like to review certain documentation based on which your returns were filed. In case of such a request, furnish the said documents immediately.
4. Tax Returns Not Filed
In case the notice is to remind you that you have not filed your tax returns yet, do so without any delay. The IT department can remind you about unfiled returns for the previous 6 assessment years.
Delays in tax filing can sometimes lead to a penalty of up to Rs.5000 per year. If there are taxes unpaid in such cases of delayed filing, the assessee is charged 1% interest per month from the due date.
If you are not required by law to file a tax return, then reply to the IT department clarifying this fact.
5. Investments in the name of spouse
Many individuals resort to purchasing assets in the name of their spouse, children or other close family members in the hope of evading taxes. Assets in this case refer to any kind of investment like land, buildings, fixed deposits, mutual funds, shares, debentures etc.
Let’s say you bought mutual funds in your wife’s name. As per section 64 of the Income Tax Act, any income you generate out of these mutual funds is still considered your income and YOU will be taxed for it.
You need to ensure that you declare such income at the time of filing your return, else you will attract attention from the taxman and receive a notice for the same.
6. High Value Transactions
High value transactions need to be updated to the Income Tax department by the entity with which you carry out such a transaction. This is in order to ensure taxes are levied as required on each of these transactions in a timely manner. Failure to do so is an invitation for a tax notice.
What qualifies as a high value transaction?
- Cash deposits in a bank worth Rs 10 lakh or more in a year
- Credit card purchases of Rs 2 lakh or more
- Mutual fund investments for Rs 2 lakh or more
- Purchase of bonds and debentures worth Rs 5 lakh or more in a year
- Sale or purchase of property worth Rs 30 lakh or more
7. Non-disclosure of assets for wealth tax
If you own assets whose net value is over Rs.30 Lakhs, you are liable to pay wealth tax at the rate of 1% of the amount that is above the Rs.30 Lakhs limit. If you do disclose such assets that you own or do not pay taxes on them, there is a good chance that you might receive an IT notice.
Assets can include anything from land, second homes, cars, yachts, gold jewellery, antiques, art etc. If you are unsure about the exact value of the assets you own, you can approach government approved valuers for this purpose.
8. Random Scrutiny
To enforce tax compliance, the IT department has started randomly scrutinizing returns under section 143 (3). If you receive such a scrutiny notice, don’t panic. Just follow these simple steps:
- Check the validity of the notice as well as the duration within which you have to respond to the Assessing Officer. Usually, a scrutiny notice is served to the assessee within a period of 6 months from the end of the financial year. Very rarely, notices related to older cases are also sent under section 148, if the Assessing Officer finds genuine reason to do so.
- Make multiple copies of the notice received
- Submit documents requested along with a cover letter listing all the documents to the Assessing Officer
- Request for an acknowledged copy of the cover letter from the Assessing Officer for your own records
- If the notice is regarding your old dues, they can be adjusted against any pending refund claims made by you for a current year.
9. Still unsure?
We admit, sometimes even the best of us have trouble understanding the ins and outs of taxation. If you still have queries regarding an IT notice you received or are unsure about the next steps to be taken, feel free to consult the experts at Cleartax.
Never ignore a notice
Ignoring a notice from the IT department can prove to be expensive. Fines are usually imposed on assessees who do not respond to IT notices – these can be as high as Rs.10,000!