Penalty for a default in tax payment

A demand notice can be sent by the income tax department to the tax-payer for payment of tax, penalty, fine, interest or any other sum payable under Section 156. After receiving the notice, if the tax-payer does not pay the tax due within 30 days of getting the notice, penalty for default in tax payment would be levied. The amount of penalty would depend on the Assessing Officer and it would not exceed the total tax due on the tax-payers.


Penalty for default in paying Self-Assessment Tax

If the tax-payer is supposed to pay a self-assessment tax under the provisions of Section 140A (1) and if such self-assessment tax is not paid (either partly or fully) within the specified period, a penalty would be levied. The amount of penalty would again depend on the Assessing Officer and is would not be more than the total tax due. Moreover, if the assessee fails to provide the return of income within the specified due date, a fee would be payable. This fee would be INR 5000 if the returns are furnished on or before 31st December of the assessment year. For any other case the fee would be INR 10,000. Moreover, if the total income is up to INR 5 lakhs, the fee would be INR 1000.

Penalty for under-reporting and misreporting of income

Under-reporting of income means showing a lower income than earned so that the tax liability is reduced. If the income of the tax-payer is found to be higher than the income reported, a penalty would be levied for under-reporting of income under section 270A. The penalty would be equal to 50% of the tax liability calculated on the under-reported income. If, however, the tax-payer has resorted to misreporting of income so that the income can be under-reported, the penalty would increase. In such cases, the penalty would be 200% of the tax liability calculated on the misreported income.


Penalty for not maintaining books of accounts and/or other required documents

As specified under the Income Tax Act, tax-payers are required to maintain their books of accounts according to Section 44AA. If such books of accounts are not maintained as per the provisions of this Section, penalty would be payable under Section 271A. The amount of penalty would be INR 25,000.

If the tax-payer has entered into an international transaction information and documentation of such transaction are required to be maintained. The income tax department might require the submission of these documents and if the tax-payer fails to submit the required documents within 30 days of their demanded, a penalty would be levied under section 271AA. The penalty would be 2% of the value of the international transaction or specified domestic transactions. If the tax-payer is an entity of the international group, the penalty might increase to INR 5 lakhs.

Penalty if a search discloses unreported income

Tax authorities usually conduct search of the tax-payer’s premises to find undisclosed income. In case of such searches, if the tax authorities find undisclosed income, penalty would be levied on such income under the provisions of Section 271AAB. The quantum of penalty would be as follows –

  • 30% of the undisclosed income discovered by the tax authorities. To avail this penalty the assessee should admit the undisclosed income, give its source and pays tax on the income along with interest on or before the due date. The tax return of the assessee should contain the undisclosed income.
  • If, however, the above-mentioned conditions are not fulfilled, the penalty would be 60% of the undisclosed income.

Penalty for income from undisclosed sources

If the tax-payer has a source of income which is undisclosed and if such an income is found by the Assessing Officer, the income would be added to the income of the tax-payer as undisclosed income under Sections 68, 69, 69A, 69B, 69C and 69D. When the undisclosed income is added under these sections, penalty would be levied. The penalty would be 10% of the tax payable by the tax-payers. This penalty can be removed if the tax-payers discloses the source of income in his/her income tax return and pays the proportionate tax on the same.


Penalty for not getting the accounts audited or for not submitting an audit report

Section 44AB of the Income Tax Act specifies the conditions under which the accounts of the tax-payer should be audited. If the tax-payer’s accounts are supposed to be audited under the provisions of Section 44AB and an audit has not been done, penalty would be levied on the tax-payer. Even if the tax-payer does not furnish an audit report, the penalty would be applicable under section 271B. The amount of penalty would be lower of one-half percent of turnover/sales/gross receipts of the business or INR 1.5 lakhs.


Penalty for not providing an accountant’s report

Under the provisions of Section 92E of the Income Tax Act, tax-payers who enter into an international transaction or into a specified domestic transaction are required to get a report from a Chartered Accountant. The report should be in a specified form and should be furnished on or before the specified date. If these conditions are not met and the tax-payer does not submit a Chartered Accountant’s report, penalty would be charged which would be INR 1 lakh under section 271BA.


Penalty for not deducting tax at source or for not paying dividend distribution tax

Chapter XVII – B states the conditions wherein the tax-payer is required to deduct TDS. Moreover, Section 115-O states that the company paying dividends is required to deduct DDT from the dividends before they are distributed. If the tax-payer does not deduct TDS or the company does not pay DDT, penalty would be charged under section 271C. The penalty would be the amount of TDS not deducted or the amount of DDT not paid.


Penalty for non-payment of tax on lottery or crossword puzzle winnings

Winnings from lottery, card games, crossword games, etc. should be paid after deducting the applicable tax if the winning is more than INR 10,000. If, on the other hand, the winning is partly in cash and partly in kind and the cash winning is below INR 10,000, the winning can be paid without deducting tax. However, in that case the person paying the winning should ensure that tax is paid by the winner on the cash amount received. If these conditions are not met, penalty would be levied under section 271C which would be equivalent to the tax not paid on the winnings.


Penalty for accepting or repaying loans or deposits in non-acceptable modes

Under Section 269SS, loans or deposits exceeding INR 20,000 should be accepted only through account payee cheques, demand drafts or bank ECS. If any other mode of accepting loans or deposits is used, penalty would be levied under section 271D. The amount of penalty would be the amount of loan or deposit accepted by the tax-payer. The same rule applies when repaying loans or deposits exceeding INR 20,000 and the penalty under section 271DA would be the amount of loan or deposit received by the tax-payer.


Penalty for collecting INR 2 lakhs or more in non acceptable modes

Under section 269T, amounts of INR 2 lakhs or above is taken from one person in one day or for a single transaction or for multiple transactions pertaining to one event or occasion, should not be taken in any mode other than account payee cheques, demand drafts or bank ECS. However, if the tax-payer receives such amount in any mode other than specified modes, penalty would be applicable under section 271E which would be the amount received by the tax-payer.


Penalties for failing to furnish statements of financial transactions or reportable accounts

The statement of financial transactions and reportable accounts are required to be furnished to tax authorities in specified formats and within the specified dates. Failure in meeting the format or in delaying the submission of such reports would result in penalties. The penalties would be as follows

  • INR 500 per day if the reports are not furnished under Section 271FA
  • INR 1000 per day if the tax department sent the tax-payer a notice under Section 285BA (5) and the reports were not furnished within 30 days of receiving such notice
  • INR 50,000 if the reports that are furnished are inaccurate in any way under Section 271FAA
  • INR 1 lakh if an investment fund does not submit a statement are required by the income tax department regarding its activities
  • If the tax-payer has entered into an international transaction or a specified domestic transaction and has not furnished the required financial statements, penalty of 2% of the value of the transaction would be levied under Section 271G
  • If the reporting entity is part of an international group and does not furnish the financial statements as per Section 286 (2), penalty would be INR 5000 per day if the delay is up to one month. If delay exceeds one month penalty would be INR 15,000 per day. Moreover, in case of inaccurate information in the reports, penalty would be INR 5 lakhs
  • If the Indian assets of an Indian company are held by a foreign company, the Indian company is required to submit some reports on such assets under Section 285A. If the reports are not submitted the penalty would be 2% of the value of transaction or INR 5000 depending on the case
  • INR 10,000 if an accountant, merchant banker or registered valuer provides incorrect information in a financial report under Section 271J
  • INR 1 lakh if payment is made to a NRI or a foreign company and reports of such payment are not furnished under Section 195 (6)

Penalty for non-filing of TDS/TCS certificates

If the TDS or TCS certificates are not filed within the due date, penalty of INR 10,000 would be levied which might go up to INR 1 lakh under section 271H.

Penalty for not cooperating with tax authorities

If the tax-payer does not co-operate with tax-authorities in respect of answering questions, signing statements, attending office to provide evidence of financial reports and complying with notices sent to him/her, a penalty of INR 10,000 would be charged for each non-cooperative action.


Other types of penalties

There are the following types of penalties too which are charged to tax-payers for different types of offences –

  • If the PAN number is not quoted, not applied for, not intimated or quoted incorrectly, penalty of INR 10,000 would be charged under section 272B.
  • If the TAN number is not quoted, not applied for, not intimated or quoted incorrectly, penalty of INR 10,000 would be charged under section 272BB.

Relaxation of penalties

Though the above-mentioned penalties are charged at various instances, the Income Tax Act also specifies the ways to relax the penalty which is applicable. As per the provisions of Section 273A (4) of the Act, the Principal Commissioner or Commissioner of Income tax has the power to reduce or cancel the penalty if the conditions specified in the section are fulfilled. Furthermore, Section 273B also lists exemption of penalty under various Sections if the tax-payer can show a just cause for the failure to comply with income tax rules.


Frequently Asked Questions

Q- What types of tax-payers are liable for penalty?

All types of tax-payers, individuals, HUFs, NRIs, BOIs, etc. would be liable to penalty if they fail to comply with income tax rules.


Q- Can multiple penalties be charged from the same tax-payer?

Yes, multiple penalties can be charged from the same tax-payer if the tax-payer has made several chargeable offences.


Q- How to avail relaxation in penalty?

You can avail relaxation in paying penalty by fulfilling the conditions laid down in Section 273A (4) and Section 273B. You should approach the competent authority for getting the relaxation from paying penalties.


Q- What is penalty for underpayment of taxes?

The penalty for underpayment of taxes is assessed by A.O.A demand notice is issued under section 156 of the Act which states as demand notice.


Q- What are the penalties and interest on unpaid taxes?

The interest under section 234A,B,C will be levied on the amount not paid and amount of penalty for unpaid amount will depend on A.O.


Q- Can IRS penalties and interest be waived?

Ans. Yes IRS can waive penalties and interest.But it takes some time to negotiate with the IRS for waiver or reduction .


Q- How can I reduce my IRS penalties and interest?

Ans 1.Show them the legitimate reason for non payment.
2.Lower your income.
3.Set up a good monthly payment plan.


Q- What is the punishment for evasion of income tax in India?

If any income is concealed penalty can be 100% to 300% of the taxes evade as per section 271(C).


Q- What is the penalty if I do not pay my income tax that is due before March 31?

Demand notice under section 156 is issued for underpayment of taxes, and a time of 30 days is provided and the penalty amount is assessed by A.O.


Q- What is the penalty for filing an income tax return after 31 July 2017 or will the new rules apply for AY 2018–2019?

Section 234F has been introduced for late filing of return.If return is filed till 31st december than penalty will be INR 5000 otherwise INR 10000.However, the last date to file ITR is 31st March 2019 for F.Y. 2017-18.


Q- What is the penalty for filing your taxes after 4/15?

And There's a late filing penalty of 5% of the taxes owed for each month, or part of a month, and if your return is late, up to a maximum of 25%..


Q- How much is the penalty for filing your taxes late, if you don’t owe any money or would be getting a refund?

Ans There is no penalty for failing to file taxes late as penalty is levied on percentage of taxes owed .


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.