Amendments in S. 119 to empower CBDT to waive fee of Rs. 5000 u/s 234F

Amendments proposed in the provisions of section 119 of Income-tax Act, to empower CBDT to waive fee of Rs. 5000 u/s 234F, in certain cases of failure to furnish return u/s 139, specially when the default is beyond the control of taxpayers, vide Clause 34 of the Finance Bill 2022 (budget 2022-23), are as under:

1. Section 119 of the Act empowers the Board to issue orders, instructions and directions to other income-tax authorities for proper administration of the Act. Clause (a) of sub-section (2) of the said section gives powers to the Board to provide relaxation of provisions of certain sections of the Act such as 115P, 115S, 115WD, 139, 1211, 234A, 234B, 234C, 234E, way of general or special orders, in respect of any class of incomes or class of cases, for the purpose of proper administration of the work of assessment or collection of revenue or initiation of proceedings for the imposition of penalties and such other issues, in public interest.

2. Section 234F of the Act which falls under Chapter XVII-F provides that in case a person fails to furnish return of income under section 139 within the prescribed time, he shall be liable to pay a fee of five thousand rupees. Currently this section is not expressly mentioned in clause (a) of sub-section (2) of section 119 of the Act.

3. While this section acts as a deterrent against those who do not comply with obligations imposed under the Act, it also leads to an unintended consequence of levying fee on persons who face genuine difficulties in filing return of income within the specified time, like members of the armed forces stationed in remote regions with no access to the requisite infrastructure.

4. Therefore, considering the genuine hardships faced by certain classes of persons in filing return of income and not to impose a fee for a default which is beyond their control, it is proposed to insert section 234F and include it in the list of sections 107 mentioned in clause (a) of sub-section (2) of section 119 of the Act, so as to enable the Board to issue such orders or instructions, as deemed fit.

5. This amendment will take effect from 1st April, 2022.

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