The Central Board of Direct Taxes has rejected the demands for further extension of last date for filing tax returns where audit is required beyond February 15.

The simply means that individual taxpayers who have missed the January 10 deadline for filing returns may now have to pay a penalty to complete the process. Similarly, taxpayers who need to file audit report before filing returns will have to do so by January 15 and file their returns by February 15.

The tax department in a tweet said, “CBDT passes order u/s 119 of Income-tax Act, 1961 in F No. 370153/39/2020-TPL dt 11th January, 2021, disposing off the representations for extension of due date for filing of Audit Report u/s 44AB, in compliance with the order of hon’ble Gujarat High Court dt 8th January, 2021.”

This was in response to the Gujarat High Court order dated January 8, 2021 in the case of The All India Gujarat Federation of Tax Consultants versus Union of India directing the finance ministry to look into the issue of extension of due dates for filing of audit reports under Section 44AB of the Income Tax Act.

As per the provisions of the Act, the due date for filing of the audit report under Section 44AB is one month prior to the due date of filing of income tax return. The due dates for payment of self-assessment tax for taxpayers whose amount due does not exceed Rs 1 lakh also coincide with the due dates for filing of ITR, it said.

On the other hand, the CBDT in its office order said, any further extension would adversely affect the return filing discipline and shall cause injustice to those who have taken pains to file the return before the due date.

It will also hamper the government’s efforts to provide relief to the poor during Covid times, the office order said.

The board also cited that India has been more generous compared to other global economies, particularly, Covid hit the US and UK, in providing relief to its taxpayers on compliance issues.

On December 30, 2020, the government had announced extension of the last dates for filing of returns by individuals to January 10, 2021 from December 31, 2020. In case of return for tax audit cases, the date was extended to February 15, from the earlier January 31. It was for the third time the tax department extended the dates.