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Section 139 of the Income Tax Act

Some key provisions covered under Section 139(1) of the Income Tax Act include mandatory and voluntary income tax* returns, ITRs filed by charitable and religious organisations, ITRs filed in case of losses, revised ITR filing, ITR filing by political parties, ITR filing by investment funds, business trusts, and in the case of defective IT returns.

Anyone who earns income, regardless of its source, is obligated to pay income taxes* under the Income Tax Act. Taxpayers are fully responsible for submitting their income tax returns (ITR) on time, or they may face penalties and interest charges.

Section 139 of the Income Tax Act outlines the rules for filing various types of returns within specified deadlines. This guide will highlight the meaning of Section 139 and its subsections. 

About Section 139 of the Income Tax Act

Section 139 mandates that any individual, company, or firm with a total income exceeding the non-taxable threshold must file an ITR for the previous year.

It also sets a statutory deadline for income tax e-filing. Taxpayers can file returns within the due date or, in some cases, belatedly until the end of the relevant assessment year or before the assessment.

Section 139(1): Submission of Income Tax Returns

This subsection includes the submission of both voluntary and obligatory Income Tax Returns and is applicable in the following scenarios:
 

Voluntary Returns: Voluntary returns pertain to entities or individual taxpayers who are not mandated by law to file Income Tax Returns but choose to do so willingly, by the provisions of the Income Tax Act.

Mandatory Returns When Filing Section 139(1): Section 139(1) of the Income Tax Act pertains to the obligatory requirements for filing Income Tax Returns. The following entities are required to file their tax returns:
 

  • Any individual with a total income exceeding the exemption threshold must submit their income tax return within the stipulated deadline.
  • Any entity, whether private, public, domestic, or foreign, operating within India or engaged in business activities in India.
  • This requirement extends to firms, including Limited Liability Partnerships (LLP), and Unlimited Liability Partnerships (ULP).
  • Residents possessing assets located outside of India or entities with authority over accounts situated abroad.
  • Hindu Undivided Families (HUFs), Associations of Persons (AOPs), and Bodies of Individuals (BOIs) must file an Income Tax Return if their income surpasses the prescribed exemption limit.
     

Under Section 139(1c), certain categories of individuals who meet particular criteria are exempted from the obligation to file tax returns.

The notification of such exemptions must be presented before both Houses of Parliament for 30 days during their respective sessions. Only upon agreement by both houses will the notification become effective.

Section 139(3) - Filing ITR During Loss

This subsection deals with the filing of Income Tax Returns (ITR) in the event of a financial loss of an entity or individual taxpayer in the preceding year. Taxpayers are obligated to submit an Income Tax Return reflecting the loss in the following instances:
 

  • If an individual or entity sustains a financial loss in the categories of 'Capital Gains' or 'Profits and Gains of Business and Professions' and intends to offset this loss against future income, they must file an ITR.
  • If a person incurs a loss under 'House or Residential Property,' they can carry forward this loss even if they filed an ITR after the due date.
  • If a person wishes to offset the loss with income from another category in the same fiscal year, they can do so even after income tax e-filing.

Section 139(4): Delayed Submission of Income Tax Returns

ITR filing Section 139(4) states that an assessee can submit their ITR at any time before three months prior to the conclusion of the assessment year or before the assessment process is finalised.
 

Taxpayers who file their ITR after the stipulated due date are subject to a penalty of ₹5,000 as per Section 234F. However, the penalty will not exceed ₹1,000 if the total income of the assessee does not exceed ₹5 lakh. Penalties do not apply to tax returns that are not obligatory under Section 139(1).

Section 139(4A): Income Tax Return for Charitable or Religious Institutions

Public charitable or religious institutions seeking tax exemptions under Section 11 and Section 12 of the Income Tax Act are obligated to file their income tax returns, provided that the total income accumulated before the provisions outlined in Section 11 and Section 12 surpasses the basic limit allowed for exemption.

Section 139(4B): Income Tax Return for Political Parties

Political parties or parties with political affiliations are required to file their income tax returns, provided that the total income generated by the party exceeds the basic limit allowed for exemption, irrespective of any benefits outlined in Section 13A of the Income Tax Act, 1961.

Section 139(4C) and 139(4D): Income Tax Exemption as per Section 10

Section 139(4C) and Section 139(4D) pertain to certain specific institutions that request tax exemptions under the provisions outlined in Section 10.

Any institution must submit its tax returns if the total income earned by that institution exceeds the prescribed threshold for exemption, without taking into account any other exemption benefits.

Section 139(5): Revised Return

This section addresses the filing of revised income tax returns in case of errors made during the initial filing. The provisions of this section include:
 

If the initial or original income tax returns are filed by the taxpayer or an entity following Section 139(1) of the Income Tax Act, they have the option to file a revised tax return within one year following the conclusion of the relevant assessment year or before the completion of the assessment, whichever comes first.
 

Late tax returns are not eligible for revision. However, any return that was filed by the due date as prescribed in Section 139(1) can be amended.

Section 139(9): Defective Returns

This subsection deals with defective returns that have specific flaws outlined in Section 139(9).

If the Assessing Officer (AO) determines that an ITR is defective, they may notify the taxpayer and allow them to rectify these defects. AOs generally grant a 15-day window for rectification, with the possibility of an extension if a valid reason is provided.

Form ITR 7

The Income Tax Department has introduced Form ITR 7, applicable to individuals, organisations, and entities obligated to file their returns as stipulated in the initial four sections of Section 139, specifically 139(4a), 139(4b), 139(4c), and 139(4d).

To submit Form ITR-7 to the Income Tax Department, taxpayers have several options:
 

  • Physical submission of the paper form.
  • Submission of an E-Form using a digital signature.
  • Transmitting data electronically, followed by the submission and verification of the return in Form ITR-V.
  • Use of a barcoded return submission method.

Final Words

Individuals earning income are obligated to pay income tax to the government. Section 139 of the Income Tax Act, 1961 pertains to the diverse types of returns that an individual or entity can submit.

It states that any entity with a total income exceeding the non-taxable threshold must file an ITR for the previous assessment year. Get the complete guide to know more about Income Tax e-filing.

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Tata AIA Life Insurance

A joint venture between Tata Sons Pvt. Ltd. and AIA Group Ltd. (AIA),  Tata AIA Life Insurance  is one of the leading life insurance providers in India. We post everything you need to know about life insurance, tax savings and a variety of lateral topics such as savings and investments in this space. You can access and read a host of different blogs, articles and pages at the Tata AIA Life Insurance Knowledge Center or get in touch with us with any queries or questions!

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the penalty if income tax returns are filed after the prescribed due date?

If individuals with a total income surpassing ₹5 lakh file their returns late, they will incur a penalty of ₹5000. For those whose total income falls within this limit, the penalty amounts to ₹1000.

What is Section 139 (2) of the Income Tax?

In the case of a company that is government-owned or government-controlled, the appointment of auditors is overseen by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG), as specified in Section 139(2).

This section sets the eligibility for the reappointment of auditors. A company is not permitted to reappoint an individual as an auditor once their 5-year term has concluded. Such an individual becomes ineligible for reappointment for the subsequent 5 years after the expiry of their term.

What is Section 139(8A) of the Income Tax?

Section 139(8A) provisions enable the submission of an Updated Return along with an additional 25% tax within 12 months from the end of the relevant Assessment Year.

Updated Returns can be filed by taxpayers who have either not filed their returns or have filed them under Section 139(1) - Original, Section 139(4) - Belated, or Section 139(5) - Revised.

Disclaimers

  • Insurance cover is available under the product.
  • The products are underwritten by Tata AIA Life Insurance Company Ltd.
  • The plans are not a guaranteed issuance plan, and it will be subject to Company’s underwriting and acceptance.
  • For more details on risk factors, terms and conditions please read sales brochure carefully before concluding a sale.
  • This blog is for information and illustrative purposes only and does not purport to any financial or investment services and do not offer or form part of any offer or recommendation. The information is not and should not be regarded as investment advice or as a recommendation regarding any particular security or course of action.
  • Please know the associated risks and the applicable charges, from your Insurance agent or the Intermediary or policy document issued by the insurance company.
  • Every effort is made to ensure that all information contained in this blog is accurate at the date of publication, however, the Tata AIA Life shall not have any liability for any damages of any kind (including but not limited to errors and omissions) whatsoever relating to this material.
  • *Income Tax benefits would be available as per the prevailing income tax laws, subject to fulfilment of conditions stipulated therein. Income Tax laws are subject to change from time to time. Tata AIA Life Insurance Company Ltd. does not assume responsibility on tax implications mentioned anywhere in this document. Please consult your own tax consultant to know the tax benefits available to you.