Section 139 Of The Income Tax Act: Meaning & Subsections

Section 139 of the Income Tax Act, of 1961 includes provisions for the late filing of different income tax returns. If an individual or non-individual income taxpayer has not filed returns within a specific deadline, this section contains guidelines to help them file delayed returns. Several sub-sections of section 139 are designed to address the non-submission of returns within the specified time frame by various tax assesses.

Section 139 mandates the following categories of taxpayers to file a return on income in the previous year ending before the first day of April:

For Individuals

  • Salaried individuals with income exceeding the prescribed exemption limit (currently ₹5 Lakhs).
  • Individuals who earn less than ₹5 lakhs from two or more employers are also mandated to file an income tax return(ITR).
  • An Indian resident owning assets outside India or beneficiary of assets located outside India.
  • Individuals who paid ₹1 lakh or more in electricity bill payments in the previous financial year.
  • Individuals who spent ₹2 lakhs or more on themselves or others for travel to a foreign country.
  • Individuals who deposited ₹1 crore or more in a bank account.
  • If gross receipts from profession exceed ₹10 lakhs in the previous financial year.
  • If the tax collected in the last year was ₹25000 or more for an individual and ₹ 50000 or more for an individual aged 60 and above.
  • If the aggregate deposit is ₹50 lakhs or more in a savings bank account.

For Others

  • Every company or firm (including LLP) irrespective of profit or loss in the previous financial year.
  • Every Association of Persons(AOP)/Body of Individuals(BOI)/Hindu Undivided Family (HUF) if their net income exceeds the exemption limit.
  • CEO of every political party if the party income exceeds the exemption limit.
  • The associations as defined under section 10 if their income exceeds the exemption limit.
  • If the gross receipts of a business exceed Rs 60 lakhs in the previous financial year

Also Read: Consider these Points for the Advance Payment of Income Tax Instalment

Voluntary Income Tax Returns

Even if you don’t come under the purview of mandatory income tax returns, file for voluntary tax returns. These are considered valid.

Income Tax Returns in Cases of Loss

  • In the case of loss, filing an income tax return allows you to carry forward losses of the previous years. 
  • For individuals, it is not mandatory to file income tax returns if there was a loss in the previous financial year.
  • For companies and firms, previous years’ losses can be offset against the gains this year, provided the returns are filed within the due date. However, if the losses are due to ‘house property’, they can be carried forward even in the case of filing delayed returns.
  • If the loss is offset against the income category of the same financial year, then the return can be claimed even if when filed after the due date.

Late Income Tax Returns

  • If you miss the due date for filing the income tax return, you can still do so before December 31st of the assessment year. 
  • If you miss this deadline, then you will have to file a condonation of delay request to the tax authorities. 
  • You might be charged a penalty of Rs. 5000. However, if the reason for the delay is valid and satisfies the officer in charge, the penalty may be waived off

Also Read: Documents Required for ITR Filing

Consequences of Delayed Filing of Income Tax Returns

Below are the consequences of delayed filing of income tax returns:

  • A penalty of ₹ 5000 if the total income is more than ₹ 5 lakhs and ₹ 1000 if the income is between ₹ 2.5 and 5 lakhs.
  • An interest of 1% per month of delay.

Revision of Returns Section 139(5)

  • There is a provision to revise any omissions or wrong statements in the filed ITR. If the Income Tax department finds mistakes in your ITR, it will issue you a notice and ask for a revised ITR. Your refunds won’t be processed until a revised ITR is filed. 
  • In case you have already received a refund and need to revise your returns, there is a time limit prescribed for the same in every cycle. 
  • There is no limit to the number of times you can file a revised return.

Defective Return

The filed income tax return is considered defective unless the following conditions are met:

  • The return is accompanied by the computation of the payable tax.
  • All the columns, annexures, etc are duly filled under each head on income, gross income and total income. 
  • The return is accompanied by proof of tax deducted at source or advance tax, if any, claimed to have been paid. 
  • If the accounts of the payee are audited, then a copy of the audited report is carried.
  • If regular accounts are maintained, then the copies of:
    • Manufacturing account, trading account, profit and loss account or any other account such as income and expense account/balance sheet, etc.
    • In the case of a personal business details of the personal account and in the case of a firm or a body of members – accounts of members.

As per section 139(9), if the assessing officer finds the filed return defective, they shall intimate the same to you, and you will have to rectify it within 15 days. Failure to do so will cause the return to be treated as invalid. 

Also Read: TDS Return Forms: Know About TDS Form 24Q, 26Q, 27Q, 27EQ in India

Dates for filing Income Tax Returns

31st July

This is the date by which all entities not requiring any audit have to file their income tax returns

30th September

This is the date by which all entities requiring an audit have to submit their income tax returns

The above two dates are usually extended by the government. 

Types of Forms to File ITR

Form 16

This form is obtained from one’s employer. It contains the TDS already paid by you along with the details of your net taxable pay, exemptions under HRA, LTA, etc. 

Form 26AS

This form contains the TDS on different earnings such as salary, debt and capital gains.  It contains the details of advance tax paid and financial transactions.

Form 15G and Form 15H

If you are below 60 years of age with a gross taxable income below the exemption limit, then you must file form 15G. If you are a senior citizen with zero salaries, you have to file form 15H.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can a belated return be revised?

Yes, you can revise your late return as well. However, the revision must be done before the deadline of 31st Dec.

What happens when you ignore the income tax notice?

Noncompliance with an income tax notice could attract a penalty of up to ₹10,000. It would also lead to a judgement assessment by the tax officer.

What is presumptive taxation?

As per the income tax act, any person engaged in business or profession has to get their accounts audited. However, to allow small businesses to avoid tedious audits, the presumptive taxation scheme was introduced. It allows one to declare income at a prescribed rate. They are exempt from maintaining account books and regular audits on the date.

When can I expect my income tax refunds?

The income tax refund can be expected within 20-30 days of filing the income tax returns.

Animesh Gupta is a Chartered Accountant by profession and a NISM certified Mutual Fund Expert. He has over 4+ years of experience working in the Financial Services Industry. In his role at Wintwealth, he is part of the Credit and Risk team and evaluates the risk of the bonds available on Wintwealth's platform.

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