If travelling or seriously indisposed
With online filing, you can submit your return from any corner of the world. However, if you take the offline route and are travelling overseas, any person authorized by you can file on your behalf. You need to give him a power of attorney, which will need to be submitted along with the return to the income tax office. The same procedure is to be followed if someone is indisposed and cannot file the return himself.
Modifying the return
It's human to make a mistake. If you have missed out on a deduction in the return you have filed, you can file a revised return till the end of the next assessment year (that is, till 31 March2013). Under Section 139(5), a revised return can be filed before the expiry of one year from the end of the relevant assessment year, or before the completion of assessment, whichever is earlier.
This window of opportunity shuts down once the return has been assessed. In each revised return, the taxpayer must mention the acknowledgement number and the date of filing the original return.Also, keep in mind that this is possible only if you had filed your original return by the due date.
Filing delayed returns for past years
There is hope for late filers as well. If someone has not filed his return for income earned in 2009-10 (assessment year 2010-11), he can do so before the end of the current assessment year under Section 139(4). However, he will lose out on some of the benefits for being a slowpoke. He cannot carry forward losses, nor will he be allowed to modify his return after filing.
Also, he may still be slapped with a penalty of Rs 5,000 for late filing. In case there are some unpaid taxes, there is a penal interest of 1% on the outstanding amount for every month of delay.
There is some respite for taxpayers who may have valid reasons for the delay. If the return was not filed because the taxpayer was seriously ill or injured (or any other such compelling reason), the CBDT may condone the delay and allow the carrying forward of losses under Section 119(2b). But don't bank on this concession. It is purely at the discretion of the CBDT and exercised only in exceptional cases.
Taxpayer dies before filing return
A legal representative can file the return on behalf of the deceased person. Where it is required to put the name of the assessee, write down 'late (name of deceased) through legal heir (name of person filing)'. The legal representative will also have to submit a copy of the death certificate and surrender the PAN card of the deceased.
Any refund due to the taxpayer will go into the dead person's account. But under Section 159, the legal representative of the taxpayer shall be liable to pay any sum which the deceased would have been liable to pay if he was alive. However, this recovery cannot be more than the amount inherited by the legal representative from the deceased taxpayer.
A dead person is entitled to all the deductions and exemptions for the entire year, but tax is levied only on the income earned till his death. On his death, the income from his assets and the tax liability is transferred to his legal heirs. So if an individual died on 30 June 2011, his legal representative will have to file on his behalf for the financial year 2010-11 as also for the income for three months of 2011-12in the next assessment year.
It's different in case the karta of an HUF dies. The HUF is not a living entity, so the death of the Karta does not lead to any change in taxation. The HUF continues to be taxed as before and the senior most male co-parcener in the HUF becomes the Karta.
Mistake in Form 16 or TDS certificate
If your PAN number in the Form 16or TDS certificate is incorrect, you will not get any credit for the tax deducted. It is not enough to get the mistake changed in the Form 16. You need to ask your employer or tax deductor to rectify and revise the TDS return filed by him. Only when it gets changed will the tax credit reflect in your Form26AS. After it is changed, inform the relevant assessing officer and submit a copy of the revised Form 26AS. After verification, you will be given credit for the tax paid.
(The author is a chartered accountant and senior partner of Mahesh K Agarwal & Co. He can be reachedat firstname.lastname@example.org.)