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Section 139 of Income Tax Act, 1961 is about the late filing of various Income Tax Returns. This means that the section guides a taxpayer in a situation where he/she has not filed ITR in a specified time. Section 139 comes with multiple divisions like Section 139 (1), Section 139 (3), and more. Let’s see the various provisions of Section 139 of Income Tax Act, 1961 in this article and learn what exactly this section means.

What is Section 139 of Income Tax Act, 1961?

Section 139 of Income Tax Act contains the guidelines for filing delayed returns if any tax assessee has failed to do the Income Tax Return filing within the given deadline. There are various subsections under Section 139 of Income Tax Act, 1961 that are designed to handle the non-submission of ITR within the prescribed time by different types of tax assesses.

Understanding the Sub-sections u/s 139 of Income Tax

1. Section 139 (1)

This subsection is about the mandatory and voluntary filing of Income Tax Returns. Mentioned below are the cases where ITR filing is mandatory.

  • Any person who has a total income above the income tax exemption limit is liable to file ITR within the set due date.

  • Any public, private, domestic or foreign country located and/or doing business in India.

  • Any firm including the Unlimited Liability Partnership or Limited Liability Partnership (LLP).

  • If an Indian resident has an asset located outside India or a resident retains signing authority for an account that is based outside India. For such cases, Income Tax Returns filing is mandatory in the prescribed form irrespective of the tax liability amount of such incomes.

  • Every HUF, AOP and BOI are mandatorily required to file Income Tax Returns with required documentation if their total income exceeds the prescribed limit.

In several situations, individuals or entities are not under the compulsory requirement to file ITR. In such scenarios, their tax filings are considered as voluntary returns that are seen as valid tax returns.

2. Section 139(3)

This section is about income tax filing in case of loss. If there was a loss in the previous financial year for an individual taxpayer, filing a tax return is not mandatory.

A tax return for loss is mandatory for a company or a firm. The provisions for the same are:

  • If the loss comes under the head, ‘Profits and Gains of Business and Profession’ or under ‘Capital Gains’, ITR filing is mandatory. This is in case a firm wants to carry forward this loss and offset it with the future income.

  • This option is available only if the Income Tax Return filing is done within the prescribed due date.

  • The loss can be carried forward even though the ITR is filed after the due date, if the loss has occurred under the head ‘House or Residential Property’.

  • If the loss is filed for returns under Section 142(1), with an exception for the loss under ‘House Property’, other losses cannot be carried forward. However, in such cases, non-offset depreciation may be carried forward.

  • If you offset the loss against another category of income in the same year, the offset is allowed even if the return is submitted after the due date.

  • Loss incurred in earlier years can also be carried forward if the returns of such losses for those years were filed with due dates and those losses were assessed.

  • You should always file the return of loss as it allows you to carry the loss forward, thus reducing the tax liability in future.

3. Section 139(4)

A taxpayer, be it an individual or an entity, is required to file the Income Tax Return before the specified due date under Section 139(1) or within the allowed time by a notice issued under Section 142(1). If any taxpayer fails to do so, they may still file the belated ITR any time until the expiry of a year that started from the ending of the applicable year of assessment or before the conclusion of the assessment, whichever is the earliest. However, a taxpayer might be charged a penalty under Section 271F of ₹5,000 if the return is submitted after the pertinent assessment year.

4. Section 139(5)

This provision of Section 139 of Income Tax Act is about the revised returns. In case the ITR was filed within the prescribed due date but the taxpayer realises later that there was some mistake or omission in ITR filing, there is a provision for revised return of income tax to correct these mistakes under Section 139(5). However, a late return is beyond the scope of this section and cannot be revised.

A revised return can be done anytime within a year after the pertinent assessment year gets over or prior to the completion of the assessment, whichever is sooner. There is no restriction on the frequency of tax return revision within the specified time frame. This revision can be done either in the same and original ITR form or in a different return form. Once the new ITR filing is done as per Section 139(5), the revised return should be validated and the original return under Section 139(1) should be considered withdrawn.

A revised return is allowed only for unintentional mistakes. Section 139(5) is applicable specifically to the cases of ‘Omissions and Wrong Statements’ and they are not meant for ‘Concealment or False Statements’. A taxpayer may get a penalty for any intentional mistake or omission and fraudulent filing.

5. Section 139(4a)

This provision of Section 139 of Income Tax Act is about the ITR of charitable or religious trusts. Under Section 139(4a), Income Tax Return filing is required by all individuals who receive derived income from the property which is held under any trust or other legal obligation. This can either be wholly for religious or charitable purposes or partly for such purposes only, or of the income being voluntary contribution. This voluntary contribution should be as referred to in Subsection 2(24)(iia), in case the total income without giving effect to the provisions of Sections 11 and 12 is above the maximum permissible amount that is not taxable under income tax.

6. Section 139(4b)

Section 139(4b) deals with the furnishing of ITR on income by political parties. The said section requires political parties to file ITR in case the total income is above the maximum amount of income tax exemption limit. The total income that is computed for this specific purpose is excluding the effects of provisions under Section 13(A). The CEO or the Secretary of all political parties are needed to furnish this ITR as applicable.

7. Section 139(4c) and Section 139(4d)

These subsections of Section 139 deal with the ITR of certain entities claiming income tax benefits under Section 10 of the IT Act, 1961. ITR under Section 139(4c) consists of institutions that are mandatorily required to file a tax return if the amount accumulated by the said institution is above the maximum limit of tax exemption. This is excluding other exemption benefits that are enjoyed by the institution. An ITR under Section 139(4c) is required to be filed by:

  • Every association engaged in scientific research

  • Institutions or associations prescribed under Section 10(23A)

  • News Agency

  • Institutions mentioned under Section 10(23B)

  • University, institutions, other educational and medical institutions, hospitals

Institutions coming under Section 139(4c) intend to claim tax exemptions as per the clauses under Section 10. The clauses are 21, 22B, 23A, 23C, 23D, 23DA, 23FB, 24, 46 and 47.

  • On the other hand, return under Section 139(4d) applies to all colleges, universities and institutions that are not required to file ITR and loss under any other provision in this section. Section 139(4d) is applicable for Section 35(1)(ii) and Section 35(1)(iii).

8. Section 139(4f)

Each investment fund designated in Section 115UB, which is not obligated to file ITR or loss under the other provisions of this section, should file ITR in respect of its income or loss of every previous year. All provisions of this act should, so far as may be, apply as if it were a return that is required to be filed under Subsection (1).

9. Section 139(9)

This section is about the defective returns of income. According to Section 139(9), a tax return is defective if it is missing certain documents while filing the return. The taxpayer will be informed and allowed to rectify the said defects if the return is considered defective by the tax officer. This should be done within 15 days starting from the day of intimation. Upon request from the taxpayer through an application, the period given can be extended as well. The taxpayer is intimated about the defect by the assessing officer through a simple letter. Here is a list of documents to avoid your ITR being deemed defective:

  • A duly filled tax return in the suggested form

  • A computation statement of payable taxes

  • Proof of all claims made about paid taxes. For example, proof of income tax deduction and collection done at source, payment of self-assessment tax and advance tax

  • A report for the audit done under Section 44AB, where prior to filing the ITR, the report is furnished

If a taxpayer maintains books of account, the following are the mandatory copies required:

  • Balance Sheet, Income & Expense A/C, Profit and Loss A/C, Manufacturing A/C, Trading A/C

  • In the case of partnership firms, personal A/Cs of partners

  • Personal accounts of the members for AOP/BOI

  • Personal account for proprietors

  • If a taxpayer has the account audited, the copies of the audit report, balance sheet and audited profit and loss A/C

  • The relevant report in case of cost audit

If a taxpayer has not maintained books, then a statement indicating net profit, bank balance, stocks, cash, debtors, gross receipts, creditors information, turnover amount, expenses, etc. is needed.

Due Dates for Section 139

Section 139 of Income Tax Act has different subsections that deal with various kinds of tax returns filed by individuals, entities and institutions as well as different scenarios of mistakes and delays in filing returns. Therefore, a few due dates are set for this section for such individuals and entities according to which the returns have to be filed.

Mentioned below are the due dates for Section 139 of Income Tax Act 1961:

July 31

This deadline often sees an extension of a month up to August 31. It is applicable to all tax assesses that are not required to do a tax audit. A salaried person, self-employed or professional, freelancer or consultant come under this deadline.

September 30

All individuals or entities that are required to undergo a tax audit of their accounting books need to file their ITR before September 30 of every assessment year. This date can also get extended as per the discretion of the government of India. A business entity, self-employed person or professional, a working partner employed with a firm or a consultant that requires to have an audit performed also come under this deadline.

How is ITR Form 7 Related to Section 139?

ITR Form 7 is released by the Income Tax Department. It is related to Section 139 of Income Tax Act, 1961 as it is applicable to all the individuals, institutions and entities that are required to file ITR under Sections Sections 139(4a), 139(4b), 139(4c) and 139(4d). ITR Form 7 can be filed in any of the following manners with the IT department:

  • Electronically with digital signature

  • Electronically transmitting data that will be followed by submitting of verification of the return in the ITR-V Form

  • In paper form

  • Furnishing return that is bar-coded

How to File Defective Return u/s 139(9)?

As mentioned above, a notice of defective return is given to a taxpayer when they have not filled all the necessary information or documents required. When such a defect is found by the IT department, they issue a defective return notice under Section 139(9) of the IT Act. A taxpayer gets 15 days of time from the date of receiving this notice to rectify these defects in the return. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to file the defective return under Section 139(9).

  1. Go to the official website of the income tax at http://www.incometaxindiaefiling.gov.in/ and login with your User ID and Password and Date of Birth/Date of Incorporation.

  2. Select the ‘E-File’ section in response to notice under Section 139(9).

  3. After successful validation, a new screen will be displayed if there is any defective notice issued to you.

  4. Click on ‘Submit’ button under the response column to submit your response.

  5. If the AO has issued any defective notice, a different screen will be displayed after clicking ‘E-File’ in response to notice u/s 139(9).

  6. Select the relevant ITR form from the drop-down and attach an XML file. Once it is done, click on ‘Submit’. A success message will appear.

  7. If a defective notice has been issued by the CPC, a different screen will appear post clicking on ‘E-File’ in response to notice u/s 139(9).

  8. Select the ‘Yes’ option available under the column ‘Do you agree with the defect?’. Select the ITR form and upload the respective XML file. If you are not in agreement with the defect, click ‘NO’. In such a scenario, you will have to justify under the ‘Assessee Remarks’ column for the disagreement.

  9. If the value under the Error Code column is ‘31’ and you have opted ‘No’ under the column ‘Do you agree with defect?’, you will have to provide some additional information that is asked on the screen. Click on ‘Submit’ once the process is done.

  10. If the assessee selects ‘Yes’ or ‘NO’ in the drop-down list displayed under ‘Details for Error Code 31’ table, i.e. if the company is FII/FPI, the assessee will have to provide further necessary details as displayed on the screen. Once it is done, click on ‘Submit’.

  11. Upon successful submission of the response, a success screen is displayed.

  12. You can also see the response submitted by clicking ‘View’ under the response column.

  13. To know the details of the submitted response, click on ‘Transaction Id’.

Error Codes in Section 139 of Income Tax

There are different forms of error codes under Section 139 of Income Tax Act, 1961. They have a list of defects for the assessee for receiving defective return notice. Here is a look at some of the error codes under Section 139 of Income Tax Act, 1961.

Error Code 14

ITR is treated as a defective return when the assessee provides a negative amount in gross profit or net profit sections.

Error Code 8

If the total income under Section 44AD is less than 8% of gross turnover/gross receipt and the assessor submits ITR-4S, it will be treated as a defective return.

Error Code 31

It is displayed when a taxpayer is having income under the head “Profits and Gains of Businesses and Profession”, but has not filled the Balance Sheet and Profit and Loss Account.

Error Code 38

This code is shown when tax is determined as payable in the return of income filed but not paid.


  • ✔️What is Section 139 in Income Tax?

     Section 139 consists of various provisions related to the late filing of various Income Tax Returns. It also features guidelines to file delayed returns if any individual or non-individual tax assessee has failed to file tax returns within the specified deadline.

  • ✔️What is the normal due date of furnishing the return u/s 139 1 for a company?

     If the assessee is a working partner in a firm that requires auditing of its accounts under any law, the deadline is September 30. In any other case, the deadline will be July 31.

  • ✔️Can I revise my ITR?

     Yes, you can revise your ITR under Section 139(5) of the Income Tax Act, 1961, which allows taxpayers to rectify their mistakes in original tax returns by filing a revised return.

  • ✔️What happens if you file a wrong ITR?

     If you file ITR in the wrong form, the tax officer might consider such returns as defective under Section 139(9) of the Income Tax Act.

  • ✔️What is the meaning of 139 1?

     Section 139(1) of the Income Tax Act, 1961 deals with the mandatory and voluntary Income Tax Returns.

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