One of the biggest worries of income taxpayers is getting a notice from the Income Tax Department. The Department issues notices under various provisions of the Income Tax Act. The purpose of the same is to ensure greater tax compliance.
In recent times, the Department has access to a wide range of financial information of taxpayers and the same is utilized for identifying potential cases of tax evasion. Department also takes help from computer-aided scrutiny system (CASS), which generate cases where there is a discrepancy in income tax return data.
REASONS FOR NOTICE FROM INCOME TAX DEPARTMENT
Some common reasons leading to notice from the Income Tax Department may include;
If the taxpayer has knowingly or unknowingly left some part of income from the income tax return, he or she may get a notice from the department.
2. Not filing returns if income is above the exemption limit
As per income tax provisions, it is mandatory to file income tax return if the income is above the exemption limit for the relevant year.
3. Not declaring income from all sources
Taxpayer is required to pay taxes on total taxable income during the year. Therefore it is necessary to include salaries etc. from all employers and other taxable income from all relevant sources in the income tax return. For example, there may be income from interest earned on bonds, fixed deposits, recurring deposits etc. which should be included in the total income.
4. Mismatch in TDS details as per Form 26AS and details filed in income tax return
There may be the difference between TDS details as per Form 26AS and details filed in income tax return. Both should be reconciled and differences should be rectified before filing the income tax return.
5. Mismatch in income, expenses and investments
Generally, investments and expenditure of the taxpayer should match with his or her income. Otherwise, it may create suspicion of escaped income which may lead to notice from the department.
VARIOUS SECTIONS UNDER WHICH NOTICE CAN BE SENT
There are various sections under which the Income Tax Department may send notice. These sections include;
NOTICE UNDER SECTION 131
Income Tax Department has got power under this section related to the discovery of escaped income and production of evidence etc. The department under this section may ask a taxpayer to submit further documents to verify income source and investment details.
NOTICE UNDER SECTION 139(9)
Under this section, the taxpayer receives intimation of a probable defect in the income tax return and he or she is given an opportunity to rectify the same within 15days from the date of such intimation or within such extended period as may be allowed. If the defect is not rectified within the aforesaid period, the return may be considered as an invalid return and accordingly, the assessee may be deemed to have furnished no return.
NOTICE UNDER SECTION 142 (1)
This section provides that the department may make necessary enquiries before completing the assessment.
INTIMATION UNDER SECTION 143 (1)
Under this section department may intimate the taxpayer to pay excess tax amounts due to reasons such as calculation errors etc.
NOTICE UNDER SECTION 143 (2)
This is a service of notice for regular assessment. Detailed scrutiny assessments are done under this section. It can be served only if a return has been filed. All relevant documents related to investments, claim for tax deductions, allowance and source of income in the relevant financial year are generally called for.
It has to be served within the time limit of 6 months from the end of the Financial Year in which return of income is filed.
NOTICE UNDER SECTION 148
Under this section, notice is issued in those cases where the income tax department has reason to believe that some income has escaped assessment.
NOTICE UNDER SECTION 156
Where any tax, interest, penalty, fine or any other sum is payable in consequence of any order passed, the department may serve upon the assessee a notice of demand under this section, specifying the sum so payable.
WHAT TO DO WHEN NOTICE IS RECEIVED
Taxpayers need not worry if they get a notice from the Income Tax Department. Instead, they should try to understand the reason for the notice and act accordingly. The taxpayer should collect all documents related to the assessment proceedings including Form 16 (in case of salaried employees), Form 16A, details of income and expenses, bank statements along with narration of entries therein, credit card statements, details of loans, gifts and investments etc.
On the basis of the above documents and queries asked in the notice, a proper reply should be prepared for submitting to the income tax officer on the hearing date. It should be kept in mind that the case may go for some months before a final decision or order.
Although the assessee himself may pursue the matter, he or she may take the professional help of a Chartered Accountant, as providing less or more information than necessary, may go against him/her.
The author is a Mumbai based, Practicing Chartered Accountant and can also be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Disclaimer- This write up is only for awareness purpose and professional opinion may be required in specific cases depending upon the particular facts.