No Relief for Taxpayers and Professionals: Gujarat High Court rejects petition seeking extension of Due date for Tax Audit Reports & Income Tax Returns [Read Judgment]

Relief for Taxpayers - Gujarat High Court - Due date for Tax Audit Reports - Income Tax Returns - Taxscan

Denying the relief to Taxpayers and Professionals, the Gujarat High Court has rejected the petition seeking an extension of Due date for Tax Audit Reports & Income Tax Returns.

Mr. S. N. Soparkar, the Senior Counsel for the writ applicant, Gujarat Federation of Tax Consultants submitted that having regard to the COVID-19 pandemic situation, the CBDT thought it fit to extend the due date for filing the tax audit report from 30th September 2020 to 31st October 2020 in the case of all those assessees who are required to get their books of account audited.

The CBDT also argued that through the Taxation and other Laws (Relaxation and Amendment of Certain Provisions) Act, 2020, the due dates for completion of any proceedings or passing of any order or issuance of any notice,   intimation,   notification,   sanction or approval or such other action,   by whatever name called,   by any authority,   Commission or Tribunal, by whatever name called under the provisions of the specified Act is extended up to   31st  March   2021.   If the adequate time period determined for such purposes is extended up to 31st March 2021 then the same should also be granted to the writ applicants. It is argued that the CBDT has recognized the need to extend the time period and has already extended the same three times for A.Y. 2021­21. Therefore, the need to extend the time period from the original due dates is genuine and not superfluous. Only the adequacy of extension is in question. It is argued that that the pandemic has not come to an end.

The division bench comprising of Justice J.B Pardiwala and Ilesh J. Vora observed that the only question that falls for our consideration is whether this   Court should issue a   writ of mandamus to the CBDT for the purpose of extending the time limit to file the Tax Audit Reports and the Income Tax Returns.

The Court also said that there is no denying the fact that the year   2020   was a challenging one. The challenge still continues in the new year 2021which has just dawned. There has been a loss of life and there has been a loss of livelihood. There has been anxiety, anguish, and even, a degree of anger that stems from helplessness or our inability to be in control of the situation. The Union and the State Government has been striving hard for a long period of time to combat the situation. It is not as if the government is completely oblivious of the difficulties which have been pointed out by the learned   Senior   Counsel appearing for the writ applicants so far as the present litigation is concerned. However, the moot question for this Court to consider is as to where to draw the line.

While rejecting the petition, the Court also said that we may only observe that the CBDT may consider issuing an appropriate circular taking a  lenient view as regards the consequences of late filing of the Tax Audit Reports as provided under underSection 271B of the Act. We leave it to the better discretion of the CBDTin this regard.

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