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Defective income tax return: You may make mistakes when performing tasks that are unfamiliar, such as filing income tax returns (ITR). These errors can result in a ‘defective return’, prompting the income tax (I-T) department to issue a notice under Section 139(9) to help you correct the mistakes. Understanding and promptly addressing a defective return notice can save you from potential penalties and ensure your tax filings are correct. Always ensure to double-check your ITR for accuracy to avoid such notices. Failure to address these issues promptly can lead to undesirable consequences. This article outlines scenarios that can lead to your return being marked as defective and explains how to respond to a defective return notice under Section 139(9).

What is a Defective Return?

A defective return notice is issued by the tax authority when they find mistakes or inconsistencies in your ITR. These errors might include missing or conflicting information, calculation mistakes, or other issues. The purpose of this notice is to prompt taxpayers to correct these errors to ensure their tax return is accurate and complete.

How Will You Receive Notice Under Section 139(9)?

The I-T Department will issue the defective return notice via email to your registered email ID. The subject of the email will be ‘Communication under Section 139(9) for PAN AWZXXXXXXX for the Assessment Year 2023-24’. The notice can also be accessed on the income tax e-filing portal.

Password for Defective Return Notice

The notice attached to the email is password-protected. The password is your PAN in lowercase followed by your date of birth in the DDMMYYYY format. For example, if your PAN is MNOPQ1212C and your date of birth is 12/112/1990, the password would be: mnopq1212c12121990.

Time Limit to Respond

Upon receiving a defective return notice, you must respond within 15 days. If you fail to respond within this period or any granted extension, your original return will be treated as invalid, and any potential refunds will not be processed.

Situations Leading to a Defective Return Notice

The Assessing Officer may issue a defective return notice for several reasons, including:

Incomplete ITR: Missing necessary details in annexures, statements, or mandatory columns, such as income from all sources.

Missing Tax Information: Paid taxes not detailed in the ITR, including TDS, TCS, advance tax, or self-assessment tax.

TDS and Income Mismatch: Claimed TDS without corresponding income offered for tax.

Bookkeeping Issues: Non-submission or incomplete submission of mandated books of accounts.

Income Tax Audit Concerns: Incomplete or missing audit reports required under section 44AB.

Cost Audit Non-compliance: Failure to submit ‘Cost Audit’ details as required by the Companies Act, 2013.

Presumptive Taxation Inaccuracies: Errors in the computation of presumptive income or non-disclosure of relevant details.

Tax Payment Discrepancies: Partially paid taxes or discrepancies between paid taxes and the tax liability in the ITR.

Incorrect Details in ITR: Errors in turnover, income limits, or reporting specific heads of income.

Mismatch in Name: Discrepancies between the name in the ITR and the PAN card.

How to Respond to a Defective Return Notice u/s 139(9)

If your return is deemed defective, the Assessing Officer will send you a notice. You must respond within 15 days by revising your return to address the defects pointed out. If you cannot complete these revisions within the given timeframe, you may seek an extension. Failing to rectify the defects within the allowed period will result in your return being treated as invalid, leading to possible consequences such as interest, penalties, non-carry forward of losses, and forfeiture of specific exemptions.

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