Can income tax return be filed for earlier years

As per the present tax laws of India, an individual, partnership firm, company and other eligible persons can file their income tax return or return of income until the completion of two financial years from the end of the financial year for which the return is to be filed.

For instance, if return of income or ITR is for the financial year 2014-2015, it can be filed on or before 31st march 2017. This means, 2 years from the end of financial year 2014-2015.

Similarly as on 31st March 2016 (i.e. In financial year 2015-2016), return of income for the financial year 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 can only be filed with the department, returns related to financial year 2012-13 and prior to that cannot be filed.

tax return or income tax return or return of income

If you have forgotten to file your tax return for financial year 2014-2015 then you can still file it on or before 31st march 2017.

This means, if assessee has missed the last date of filing (i.e. two years from the end of the financial year) then system will not allow to e-file the return of income.

But please note that filing of tax returns after the due date is known as belated return under section 139(4) and it comes with some restrictions.

Assessee can file last year return and the current year return at the same time as its not prohibited or restricted by the Income tax act 1961 to file two returns at the same time.

This means, one individual at a particular time or date can file tax return for two financial years at the same time as returns prior to two years will be time barred and could not be filed.

Does it mean that you should file your return of income after the due date as specified in the Income tax act 1961 or as notified by CBDT?

Income tax act 1961 is very specific about this provision. As per the act, if a taxpayer does not have any tax liability then he or she can file his or her return of income after the due date but before the last date (i.e. two years from the end of the financial year) without paying interest.

If you have tax liability due then you are liable to pay interest as applicable under section 234A, 234B, 234C and penalty based on your total net tax payable.

Table showing last date of filing tax return

Financial Year Assessment Year Last date for Filing tax return
2012-2013 2013-2014 31st March 2015
2013-2014 2014-2015 31st march 2016
2014-2015 2015-2016 31st March 2017
2015-2016 2016-2017 31st March 2018

Editorial Staff at Yourfinancebook is a team of finance professionals. The team has more than a decade experience in taxation and personal finance.

Reader Comments

    1. YFB

      You may receive notice of inquiry under section 142(1) or notice of escaping income under section 148. Based on the notice you may file the return before the date as mentioned in notice or before completion of Assessment which ever is earlier. But penalty can be levied by the department in such conditions.

    1. YFB

      In this case it will be called as a belated return under section 139(4). In case of belated return following restrictions will be applied;

      1. belated return cannot be revised
      2. In case of loss, assessee cannot carried forward it as per law
      3. Penalty of Rs. 5,000 can be imposed by tax department
      4. In case tax liability arises then interest can be imposed under section 234A, 234B and 234C
      5. In case of refund, assessee will not get interest for filing after the due date.

      Read More on belated return and

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