CBDT refutes reports of decline in e-filing of ITR

New Delhi: The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) on Monday refuted reports that e-filing of income tax returns (ITRs) had dropped in FY19, claiming that ITR e-filing figures of financial year 2018-19 were “not comparable” to those of 2017-18.

“This is factually untrue, because the figures for FY 2017-18 and FY 2018-19 are not directly comparable,” the CBDT said in a statement.

In its statement, the CBDT said that during 2017-18, out of a total of 6.74 crore e-filed ITRs, 5.47 crore were filed for assessment year (AY) 2017-18. In comparison, during financial year 2018-19, a total of 6.68 crore ITRs were e-filed which included 6.49 crore ITRs of the current assessment year 2018-19, marking an increase of almost 19 per cent.

“This would imply that substantially larger number of taxpayers filed their ITRs electronically in the financial year 2018-19 as compared to 2017-18,” it said.

The apex tax body further explained the figures and said that during FY18, apart from the returns for AY 2017-18, nearly 1.21 crore ITRs were filed for AY 2016-17. The balance number of ITRs filed for AY 2015-16 and previous assessment years was 0.06 crore. In comparison, during FY 2018-19, only 0.14 crore ITRs for AY 2017-18 were filed.

“Thus, the apparent decrease in the number of ITRs filed during FY 2018-19 pertaining to earlier years was due to an amendment in Section 139(5) of the Income Tax Act, 1961, brought in vide Finance Act, 2017, from April 1, 2018 which mandated that a revised return could be furnished only up to the end of the relevant assessment year,” the CBDT said.

As a result, only 0.14 crore ITRs pertaining to AY 2017-18 were filed during FY 2018-19 as these were revised ITRs for the relevant AY which could only be filed due to a change in the law, it added.

The CBDT further stated that the number of paper ITRs for AY 2017-18 was only 9.2 lakh (1.5 per cent of total ITRs filed) and the number of paper ITRs for AY 2018-19 was 4.8 lakh (0.6 per cent of total ITRs filed).

“As per the above details, it is evident that most of the taxpayers have steadily switched to e-filing which is clear from the dwindling numbers of paper returns filed for AY 2018-19 compared to earlier years,” the tax authority said.