Mistakes that attract income tax notice
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Common Mistakes that attract Income Tax Notices and how to avoid them?

Mon Jul 10 2023

Common Mistakes that attract Income Tax Notices and how to avoid them?

Receiving an income tax notice from the Income Tax office is a situation that most taxpayers dread. Even if you have diligently filed your tax return, there are several reasons why you might still end up with a notice. In this article, we will explore the common mistakes that often attract income tax notices and provide detailed guidance on avoiding them while complying with the Indian Income Tax Act 1961.

Understanding Scrutiny Assessment

Scrutiny assessment is a process where the tax department carefully examines the tax returns filed by taxpayers. If the department has a reason to believe that the information provided is incorrect or incomplete, the case is selected for scrutiny assessment. The taxpayer receives a notice from the department and must take appropriate action as communicated.

The Reasons behind Selection of Cases for Scrutiny

Scrutiny assessments can be of two types: manual and compulsory. While manual selection for scrutiny is often avoidable with careful attention, compulsory selection cannot be prevented.

Let's delve into some of the common reasons for the selection of cases for scrutiny and explore ways to avoid them effectively:

Reason 1: Non-filing of Income Tax Return (ITR)

One of the primary reasons for receiving an income tax notice is the non-filing of ITR. If your gross income exceeds the exempted limit (INR 2,50,000 for individuals below the age of 60), filing an annual income tax return within the stipulated time frame is mandatory. For resident Indians who own foreign assets or have signing authority in a foreign bank account, filing a tax return is obligatory, irrespective of their income. Even if your employer has already deducted TDS from your pay, you must still file your return to avoid attracting a notice.

How to avoid: Ensure prompt payment of advance taxes and file your returns well before the due date.

Reason 2: Error with Respect to TDS

Discrepancies between the TDS shown in your return and what is reported on the Traces website can raise red flags and lead to an income tax notice.

How to avoid: Request your employer or any entity deducting TDS from your income to deposit the amount with the government treasury and file TDS returns on time. Always reconcile the actual TDS deducted from your income with your Tax Credit Statement (Form 26AS) and promptly report any discrepancies.

Reason 3: Non-disclosure of Other Incomes

One of the most common mistakes is failing to report all earned incomes in the tax return. Many individuals overlook interest income from savings accounts, fixed deposits, and recurring deposits.

Cases where TDS is deducted at a lower rate than the taxpayer's applicable tax slab can attract scrutiny for non-disclosure or an attempt to minimize tax liability.

How to avoid: Request your bank to provide an interest statement for all your deposits at the year-end. Report all income from any source in your tax return, even if the amount is tax-exempt.

Note: Concealment of income can result in penalties of up to 300% of the tax payable.

Reason 4: Unnatural or High-Value Transactions

Engaging in transactions with significantly higher values than the income declared in your tax return may trigger an income tax notice. For instance, a salaried individual earning Rs. 4,00,000 but depositing more than Rs. 10,00,000 in their bank account may attract attention. All high-value transactions are reported directly to the tax department through annual information returns filed by institutions like brokers and banks.

How to avoid: Ensure you report every transaction, including losses such as those incurred in share trading, to the tax department to avoid notice.

Reason 5: Defect in Income Tax Return

Filing an inaccurate income tax return due to ignorance or lack of knowledge can lead to notices from the tax department. This could be caused by using the wrong ITR form, omitting mandatory information, or other errors.

How to avoid: Prepare all your documents before filing your ITR and seek assistance from a tax expert if you face any challenges in filing your return.

Read more: How to respond to an Income Tax Notice?

Receiving an income tax notice can be avoided by ensuring accurate and timely filing of income tax returns, meticulous record-keeping, and transparent reporting of all incomes and transactions. Compliance with the provisions of the Indian Income Tax Act 1961 and being proactive in rectifying any mistakes or discrepancies can help taxpayers avoid unwanted scrutiny and maintain a smooth tax journey. By staying informed and vigilant, taxpayers can navigate the complexities of the tax system and prevent potential issues that may arise from common mistakes. Remember, diligent compliance and seeking professional guidance whenever necessary is the key to avoiding income tax notices.

byAditi Mendiratta

Aditi is a corporate lawyer with a knack for writing that ranges from fictional stories to long-form legal content. Armed with a dual degree in law and mass communication, she aspires to put words to their best use to inform, educate and entertain.

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