Will govt extend these five financial deadlines amid coronavirus outbreak?

All over the country, cities have partially locked down and people are working from home - this is because people have been told to avoid crowded places. The question now arises: will the government extend some of these financial deadlines?

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The deadline to link PAN with Aadhaar is March 31, 2020.
The coronavirus outbreak could not have come at a worse time. It is the month of March and there are many financial deadlines that fall in this month. These include filing of belated income tax return, revised tax return, linking of PAN and Aadhaar and Vivad se Vishwas scheme etc.

All over the country, cities have been locked down, curfews have been imposed and people are working from home - this is because people have been told to avoid crowded places.

The question now arises: will the government extend some of these financial deadlines?

Further, the Income Tax Employees Federation and Income Tax Gazetted Officers Association have written to the chairman of the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) to extend the financial year from March 31 to April 30 for FY 2019-20.

Here is a look at some of these deadlines and why people are appealing to the government to extend them.

  • Vivad se Vishwas Scheme
Taxpayers who want to settle income tax disputes under the Vivad se Vishwas Scheme will not have to pay any penalty and interest, if the tax dispute is settled by March 31.

Since the forms for the scheme were only recently notified on March 18, 2020 and with less than 12 days to go, many chartered accountants are asking for an extension of this date.

Karishma Phatarphekar, Partner, Deloitte India says, "The Vivad se Vishwas scheme has been enacted and rules and forms have been published. Taxpayers who would have by now analysed the scheme for their dispute matters, will need to act and start the process in right earnest. Having said that considering that the taxpayer has only 12 days to avail the full benefit under the scheme coupled with the lock-down kind of situation in view of the coronavirus pandemic, we hope the government will extend the scheme beyond March 31, 2020 without the stipulated 10 per cent increase in tax cost."

  • Belated filing of income tax return
March 31 is also the deadline to file belated income tax return (ITR) for FY 2018-19. It is crucial to file belated ITR, before the deadline of March 31, 2020, as after this period the tax returns for FY 2018-19 cannot be filed. Further, the online filing portal will not support filing of returns for FY 2018-19 after this date.

Dr Suresh Surana, Founder, RSM India says, "The Income Tax Act provides for prosecution provisions under section 276CC for wilful failure to furnish tax-return within the deadline. A person can be prosecuted with imprisonment and fine for willful failure/ default in filing of income tax return. Imprisonment can extend for a period from 3 months to 2 years if tax evaded on account of failure to file income tax return exceeds Rs 3,000. In cases where the tax evasion on account of failure to furnish income tax return exceeds Rs 25,00,000 then such person can be subjected to rigorous imprisonment for period of 6 months which could extend up to 7 years along with fine."

  • Filing of revised ITR
If at the time of filing your original ITR you made a mistake, like not declaring any income or a bank account etc., then in such a case you can file a revised return. March 31, 2020 is the deadline to file revised ITR for FY 2018-19.

If an individual does not declare all income in his/her return, then there are penal consequences that he/she is liable for under the Income- tax Act, 1961. These include under-reporting and/or misreporting of income. Therefore, if an income has been wrongfully omitted by you at the time of filing ITR, then you must file a revised one for FY 2018-19.

  • Linking of PAN and Aadhaar
The deadline to link PAN with Aadhaar is March 31, 2020. If PAN is not linked with Aadhaar by this deadline, then from April 1, the PAN will become inoperative. If the PAN becomes inoperative, then the individual will not be able to conduct the financial transactions or file ITR.

The process of linking PAN with Aadhaar is simple and does not require stepping out of the house. However, if the names or any other information in the two documents does not match, then the individual will first have to get one of the documents corrected and then link the two.

For correction in Aadhaar, an individual has to go to an Aadhaar Seva Kendra. Further, he/she will most probably have to undergo biometric authentication as well. Similarly, in case of correction in PAN, an individual is required to visit NSDL/UTIITSL service centre in their city.

Given the current lockdown-like situation, it is likely that an individual might find it difficult to get the information corrected.

  • Extension of PMAY deadline
The deadline to avail the credit subsidy benefit under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY) for middle income group - I and II is March 31, 2020. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI), in a press conference dated March 16, has asked the general public to avoid visiting the bank unless necessary to avoid the spread of Covid-19.

Due to Covid-19, those who wanted to get a loan under PMAY, may be wary of visiting bank branch to get the loan sanctioned in a lockdown situation. They will lose the benefit of the credit subsidy if they do not avail a loan under the PMAY by March 31.
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