Whether Late Fee for delay in filing of TDS return u/s 234E can be condoned if there is a Reasonable Cause ?
Here is a very judgment by Jaipur ITAT which is summarised hereunder :
Block Development Officer Vs ACIT
ITA Nos.891, 892, 893, 894, 895 & 896/JP/2019
Short Overview of the Case :
– Assessee was an officer of Government of Rajasthan, responsible for block and panchayat level development programs of the State as well as Central Government schemes/projects such as NAREGA, Swachh Bharat Mission, PMGY etc.
– The assessee had made various payments in respect of carrying out these development works under these schemes of the government and deducted TDS on these payments.
– However, the TDS statement as required U/s 200(3) of the Act for each quarter were not submitted in time and there was a delay in submission of the quarterly TDS statements for all these quarters involved in these appeals.
– Initially the assessee submitted quarterly statements for the F.Y. 2015-16 which were processed U/s 200A of the Act and the intimation was issued.
– Thereafter the assessee submitted rectification statements and the AO had issued a rectified intimation U/s 154 r.w.s. 200A of the Act.
– Thus, the AO while issuing the original intimation as well as the rectified intimation made the adjustments towards late fee U/s 234E of the Act.
– On appeal, the CIT(A) confirmed the order of the AO.
– Aggrieved assessee filed appeal before the tribunal.
– On appeal, the question before Tribunal was whether, since the late fee u/s 234E, is mandatory in nature, the presence of a reasonable cause does not help the assessee?
Tribunal observed as under :
– As regards the quarterly TDS statements for the F.Y. 2016-17, the assessee initially filed statements on 12/06/2017 and consequently the AO issued intimation U/s 200A of the Act on 15/06/2017 whereby the adjustment on account of late filing fee U/s 234E of the Act was made by the AO.
These facts are not in dispute in so far as the delay in filing the quarterly statements.
Since the assessee had filed rectification statements on 05/04/2018, therefore, the AO had again issued intimation U/s 154 r.w.s. 200A of the Act.
The assessee had not pointed out any mistake in issuing the intimation by the AO on account of computation of period of delay or quantification of the late filing fee U/s 234E of the Act.
Therefore, as far as merits of the appeals are concerned, court do not find any substance or merits in these appeals as the delay in filing the quarterly statement is accepted by the assessee.
The only plea raised by the assessee before the CIT(A) as well as before court was the explanation for such delay in filing quarterly statement.
However, since the levy of late fee as prescribed U/s 234E of the Act was mandatory and consequential, therefore, the same cannot be deleted on the ground of reasonable cause as explained by the assessee.
It was pertinent to mention that though the intimation issued U/s 200A of the Act is an appealable order, however, the said order can be challenged only on the ground that the adjustment made by the AO or intimation issued U/s 200A of the Act was not in accordance with the provisions of Section 234E or Section 200A of the Act.
Only if the AO had failed to comply with the mandatory provisions of these Sections while making the adjustment and issuing the intimation, the same can be challenged in the appeal.
In absence of any such allegation that the AO had violated any of the provisions of Section 234E or Section 200A of the Act, the adjustment made by the AO on account of late filing fee U/s 234E of the Act cannot be deleted.
All the appeals of the assessee were dismissed by Jaipur ITAT.
In short, Tribunal has refused to delete the late fee even if there is a reasonable cause for delay in filing of the TDS return.
In other words, Late Fee u/s 234E is mandatory in Nature.