No drop in Income Tax return e-filers, two fiscal year numbers not comparable: CBDT clarifies : 07-05-2019

The Central Board of Direct Taxes has said figures for income tax returns e-filed during the financial year 2018-19 as compared to 2017-18 are not comparable.

CBDT said that during FY 2017-18, out of a total of 6.74 crore ITRs which were e-filed, 5.47 crore ITRs were filed for Assessment Year (AY) 2017-18, the current year.

The apex direct taxes body’s statement comes in the wake of media reports pertaining to reduction in numbers of ITRs e-filed during Financial Year (FY) 2018-19 as compared to FY 2017-18

“This is factually untrue, because the figures for FY 2017-18 and FY 2018-19 are not directly comparable,” an official statement said on Monday.

In comparison, during FY 2018-19, a total of 6.68 crore ITRs were e-filed which included 6.49 crore ITRs of current AY 2018-19, marking an increase of almost 19%, it said.

This would imply that substantially larger number of taxpayers filed their ITRs electronically in the FY 2018-19 as compared to FY 2017-18.

Explaining the factual status, CBDT said during FY 2017-18, apart from the returns for the 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 prior AY is 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 via Finance Act, 2017, effective April, 2018, which mandated that a revised return could be furnished only up to the end of the relevant assessment year.

As a result only 0.14 crore ITRs pertaining to AY 2017-18 were filed during FY 2018-19 as these were the revised ITRs for the relevant AY which could only be filed due to change in law and no other ITR of any earlier AY could be filed in view of the amended provisions of law.

Further, the CBDT said, the number of paper ITRs for AY 2017-18 was only 9.2 lakh (1.5 %of total ITRs filed) and the number of paper ITRs for AY 2018-19 is 4.8 lakh (0.6% 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.

Source : PTI