Several bodies representing chartered accountants (CAs) from across the country have requested finance minister (FM) Nirmala Sitharaman to extend the deadlines for filing returns for income-tax (I-T) and other tax audit reports due to technical glitches and errors in the I-T portal and third wave of coronavirus (COVID-19).
In the joint representation, the CA bodies say, “...we regret to inform you that even after the expiry of approximately four months since the date 15 September 2021, the portal was expected to have become smoothly functional, taxpayers as on date still continue to face various technical issues while interfacing on the portal. Further, with the due date for filing the income tax returns and audit reports for assessment year (AY) 2021-22 approaching very close, these technical issues are causing panic and concerns amongst various stakeholders.”
“...although statistically, the number of income tax returns filed for AY21-22 may be in sync with the numbers for earlier years, however the ground reality as far as procedural difficulties are concerned, is far different and far from an ideal situation,” the CA bodies says, while highlighting 11 issues on the new Efiling-2.0 portal of the I-T department.
The letter is signed by presidents of Bombay Chartered Accountants’ Society (BCAS), Chartered Accountants Association of Ahmedabad, Karnataka State Chartered Accountants’ Association and Lucknow Chartered Accountants’ Society, Association of Chartered Accountants, Chennai and The Chartered Accountant Study Circle, Chennai.
The CA bodies have been requesting an extension of deadlines from time to time. In the latest representation, they have requested the FM to direct the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) to extend the due dates for AY21-22 to 31 March 2022.
For example, the CAs point out login issues of the I-T portal. “…the new portal has been working erratically in terms of response speed. It works quite slowly at odd hours, and it takes multiple attempts to login into the portal to upload returns and audit forms,” they say.
Further, the CA bodies say, “There have been last-minute updations of utilities and instructions for e-filing the ITR forms and tax audit report. For instance, the latest schema of forms 3CA-3CD and 3CB-3CD was updated at the fag end on 6 January 2022 of the filing due dates. This leads to unnecessary duplication of work as old Json files are no longer accepted with change in the schema.”
According to the CA bodies, registration of new assessee is an enormous challenge as registration is not getting accepted for unknown reasons. “No proper and specific error message is being displayed describing the reason of error, and in case grievances are raised with reference to same, the support team seeks the screenshot of the error message which is causing undue delay in the registration process,” they say.
“Considering all the above difficulties being faced by all stakeholders, it is recommended that the due date for filing income tax returns and tax audit report for all the taxpayers for AY21-22 be extended to 31 March 2022. Consequently, the timelines for filing all the relevant reports and certificates under the Act which fall due and coincide along with or in connection with the ITR filing due dates may also be extended to 31 March 2022,” the letter says.
It also requested deferment to 31 March 2022 in the due dates for filing Form 3CEB and all the associated compliances like filing Form 3CEAA. It says, “The due date of filing Form 3CEAB, which needs to be filed one month before the above, due date be allowed to be filed on or before 28 February 2022. Consequently, the time limit for filing of country by country reporting (CbCR) may also be extended.”
The CA bodies have highlighted 11 issues while filing returns for I-T and tax audit. This includes login issues, last-minute updates of versions of utilities, problems in accepting audit forms and reports, non-availability of acknowledgement for ITRs, registration of new cases and digital signature certificates, one-time passcodes (OTPs), ITR-6, AIS statement and forms 26AS, inability to upload audit report in form 10B for charitable organisations, and the non issue of form 3CEB utility for transfer price audit reports.
Here is the joint representation sent by the CA bodies to finance minister Sitharaman...