Common errors that can make your return “defective”?

  • Not filling the annexure, statements and columns in the income tax return that must be duly filled wherever required. For example, while claiming deduction u/s 80G, the details in its schedule is not filled or wrongly filled.
  • Tax together with interest, if any is paid before filing the return and all the details relating to it is not filled. For example, BSR code, Date of challan should be correctly filled.
  • Tax actually paid does not match with the tax payable in the income tax return or taxes are not paid in full.
  • While filing ITR 4, total presumptive income is shown less than 8% or 6 %of gross turnover or receipts as the case may be then in that case ITR 3 should have been filed.
  • The Gross receipts is not mentioned in the Profit & Loss A/c Or the Gross receipt or income u/s 44AD is shown more than Rs. 2 Crore in ITR 4.
  • If you have file your return u/s 44ADA with the gross receipt more than 50 Lakhs without Balance sheet and Profit & Loss, then notice will be recieved for filing ITR-3 with B/s and P&L Statement.
  • Where you’re required to maintain regular books of account such as Balance Sheet and Profit and Loss statement, but they have not been filled in the return while filing it.
  • Tax deducted has been claimed as a refund, but no income details are provided in the return.
  • No income details has been provided in ITR but details regarding taxes paid have been provided.
  • Gross income as referred in 26AS has not been considered in the respective heads of ITR.

Okay, so what shall I do now?

Once you’ve been served with notice of defective return u/s 139(9), then you must correct your return by revising it within 15 days from the receipt of intimation by the Income Tax Department. You can apply for extension also by writing an application to the Assessing Officer (A.O.). So even after 15 days have been elapsed, you can still write an application to the A.O. and he might extend deadline of filing revised return.


What will happen if I don’t do anything after receiving notice for defective return u/s 139(9)?

Your defective return will be treated as good as non-filed return which means the Income Tax Department will consider as if you’ve not filed return for that year.


How Shall I file the return in response to the Notice u/s 139(9)?

Step 1: Login to www.incometaxindiaefiling.gov.in with your user ID and Password.

Step 2: Click on tab “e-file” and in the drop-down select “e-File in response to notice u/s 139(9)”

Step 3: On successful validation, you’ll find notice for defective return u/s 139(9) if any issued to you.

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Step 4: Click on submit and you’ll see the below image if defective notice is raised by Assessing Officer (A.O.):

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Step 5: Now fill your Income Tax Return by rectifying the defect by selecting “Return u/s 139(9) and mention date of original return and acknowledgement number. Once you do that then generate its xml file and upload it in the above screen. After that you’ll see the following message and your work is done.

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Step 6: For defective notice raised by CPC, the below screen will be displayed:

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Step 7: Now if you agree with the effect then just fill your Income Tax Return by rectifying the defect by selecting “Return u/s 139(9) and mention date of original return and acknowledgement number. Once you do that then generate its xml file and upload it in the above screen. After that you’ll see the below screen:

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Step 8: But if you do not agree with the defect then select “No” and give “Assessee Remarks” and click submit. After that Income Tax Department, shall take follow up regarding it.

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I selected “No” in “Do you agree with defect” by mistake while submitting response for defective return. Can I change it? You can withdraw the response selected by you at the time of submitting the response for defective return within 3 days of submission by clicking on withdraw link under Response column. You’ll get the below screen:

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Just select on confirm withdrawal and the response that you had submitted will be withdraw and you’ll get the below success message:

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Did you receive tax notice? Let us help you respond to the IT Department.

- Tax2win has expertise in responding to Income Tax Department

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Frequently Asked Questions

Q- How do I resolve error code 31 in a defective income tax return?

Error Code 31 appears when return has been filed under the head of income from business and profession and the balance sheet has not been filed by the assessee. In this case assessee should revise his return and file all the relevant information.


Q- How do I respond to a notice under section 139(9) with error code 38 from the Income Tax Department?

This error occurs if tax payable in return filed is more than tax paid.To resolve this error, tax should be paid in full with interest to the Income tax department in revised return.


Q- I am freelancer The payment is monthly and TDS is deducted every month. I filed ITR-4. I got response from Income tax department for defective return?

If the tax has been deducted by the deductor under section 192, then return should be filed in ITR 1 instead of ITR 4, this can be one reason for defective return.Instead of this, defective return can be considered if, tax payable in return is not paid while filing return, where balance sheet figures were required, not filled.

Q- Why does my ITR status suggest, no further action required as the latest return is taken for processing?

It means that return is error free and all the defects have been removed and is taken for processing.


Q- How do I pay my remaining income tax after notice u/s 139(9)?

To pay the remaining income tax u/s 139(9) of the Income Tax Act, 1961:

  • Pay taxes online as you pay for self assessment taxes.
  • File your revised return and generate XML for the same.
  • Then login to income tax portal.
  • Go to e-file dropdown and select e-file response u/s 139(9).
  • Browse XML generated in the response
  • And revised return and response under section 139(9) is filed

Q- Invalid returns u/s 139(9), can I file it again as fresh return for that AY?

Notice u/s 139(9) is issued when return is found defective and a period of 15 days is provided to the assessee to resolve the same, however if assessee fails to do so, the return is considered as defective and treated as return has never been filed. If assessee wants to file return later, then he can do so by filing belated return , but the last date for belated return is end of the relevant assessment year. For example, ITR of F.Y. 2018-19 can be filed last upto 31.03.2020.


Q- How can I resolve an error code 89 in defective return notice received u/s 139 (9)?

Error code 89 occurs when return has been filed under section 44ADA but nature of business does not qualify as profession.To remove the error, one should file the revised return correcting the section under which has income has been filed .


Q- In response to 139(9) I have filed revised Income Tax Return. Do I need to respond to 139(9) also separately

Normally, Compliance can be submitted with the Disagree option stating that Return has been Revised. Still the action might differ depending upon your case which can further be assisted by our Tax Experts.


Q- I have received notice u/s 139(9). My Form 26AS shows additional pension income received from Army. Please let me know if it is taxable? I am currently receiving Form 16 for another job.

Pension received from the armed force is fully exempt if the lump-sum amount of pension is received. However, if the periodical pension is received from the armed force then it is fully taxable. Further, pension received by family members of armed forces is fully exempt. Hence, you can reply to the notice accordingly. To know more about taxability of pension, Read here.


Q- What is section 139(9) of the income tax act?

In case incomplete,no or wrong information has been furnished while filing income tax return then, notice under section 139(9) is issued to the assessee. You are given a time period of 15 days to reply to this notice.


Q- How to file defective return u/s 142(1)?

The income tax department can issue you notice u/s 142(1) if

  • You have not filed your income tax return for the relevant assessment year or
  • You are required to submit some information or documents of the income tax department.

You should file such return within the given time period in notice or furnish such documents and informations as seeked by the AO.


Q- What is unique number in notice u/s 139(9)?

While submitting a reply to notice u/s139(9) you are required to quote unique reference number which is the Document Identification Number mentioned on your notice.

notice u/s139(9)


Q- What is error code 202 in income tax return notice u/s 139(9)?

While giving response to notice u/s 139(9) error code 202 is widely seen. This code means the income disclosed in ITR is less than the income coming in your Form 26AS.

Q- What is error code 332 of income tax?

Error Code 332 in defective return communication u/s 139(9) means the balance sheet details have no been furnished with ITR. In case you have currently filed ITR on presumptive basis response to this notice can be made by giving clarification for your action taken.Otherwise you are required to file the revised return in form ITR3.


Q- What are the consequences of invalid return/defective return u/s 139(9)?

The various consequences of not responding to defective return communication u/s 139(9) are

  • Your return can be invalidated
  • Penalties may be levied
  • You might attract excess tax liability
  • Loss of income tax exemptions, deductions, and carry forward losses
  • May attract litigations

CA Abhishek Soni

Abhishek Soni is a Chartered Accountant by profession & entrepreneur by passion. He is the co-founder & CEO of Tax2Win.in. Tax2win is amongst the top 25 emerging startups of Asia and authorized ERI by the Income Tax Department. In the past, he worked in EY and comes with wide industry experience from telecom, retail to manufacturing to entertainment where he has handled various national and international assignments.