Income Tax

Is it Possible to File ITR for the Previous 3 Years Together?

Is it Possible to File ITR for the Previous 3 Years Together?

If you failed to file ITR of last 3 years and are worrying about the consequences, then you should go through this article which discusses the possible solutions for those who are stuck in similar situation.

What is Income Tax Return?

Filing Income Tax Return is a process of letting the government know about the income one earned during a fiscal year in question. ITR is a consolidated document that consists of your income, total tax to be paid, liabilities and tax refunds for the financial year. Every year the Income Tax Return must be filed before the deadline.

For example, for the financial year beginning from April 1, 2020, till March 31, 2021, a taxpayer is required to file ITR by July 2021. (Note-The CBDT has extended the deadline to file ITR for FY 2020-21 to December 31, 2021.) Likewise, there are various ITR forms, and a taxpayer must be aware of which ITR to file.

Can one file ITR for the previous 3 years in a year?

No, you can’t file last 3 years ITR together, that is, in a year. Before we go any further, let us understand the difference between Financial Year and Assessment Year.

If we consider financial year 2020-21, then the income earned during this financial year is taxable in the assessment year, which ranges between April 1, 2021- March 31, 2022. Usually, the deadline is July 31, 2021 for salaried/self-employed/contract employees and September 30 for companies etc. The Income Tax Department prescribes this structure that should be followed by every taxpayer while filing the tax return.

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However, this structure is not rigid and is subject to certain exemptions. The government has the authority to extend the deadline by some months in case of any issue faced by the taxpayers while filing their income tax return. If you missed out on filing ITR, you may still file the same but with a penalty through a Belated Return which was introduced in the Finance Act 2017.

What is Belated ITR?

According to Section 139 (4) of the IT Act 1961[1], in case where any individual fails to file the ITR within the due date, then such person can file a belated return along with the penalty as specified by the Income Tax Department.

The belated return may be filed before the end of the corresponding assessment year or prior to completion of the assessment by the tax authorities, whichever is earlier. This provision has been made available from the assessment year 2017-18, which means from the financial year 2016-17.

Essential points to know before you file ITR

Here are certain essential points to be known:

  • Under Section 234A of IT Act, in case the assessee files a belated ITR, then he shall be liable to pay tax with interest at the rate of 1% per month;
  • Likewise, the taxpayer must pay the prescribed penalty with the belated ITR;
  • In case the return is filed after the assessment which gets cancelled afterwards, then the return shall be deemed valid;
  • According to the Finance Act, belated ITR can be revised, meaning, any mistakes made at the time of filing ITR can be fixed;
  • In case a taxpayer is not liable to pay tax, then he shall be exempted from paying interest and penalty, but the condition is that he should file it prior to the end of the corresponding assessment year.
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From the above, it can be concluded that ITR cannot be filed for the last 3 years together in one year. Hence if we take the example of financial year 2017-18, the last date for filing belated ITR would be March 31, 2019. In case of financial year 2018-19, the last date of filing belated return with penalty was March 31, 2020, and for financial year 2019-20, the last date to file the belated return with penalty was March 31, 2021.

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