Making March Meaningful – Tax caution before 31st March Ends

Making March Meaningful – Tax caution before 31st March Ends

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Making March Meaningful – Tax caution before 31st March Ends

 

March is always crucial not only for the taxpayers in business but for other categories of the taxpayers as well. It’s the end of the financial year, time to close the books of accounts & the deadline for most of the tax related activities. Due planning and consideration can surely help in not only reducing the tax impact but also in timely compliance. This is the most appropriate time for the businesses to review its yearly financial activities so as to favorably optimize the tax calculation. Planning for 31st March well in advance is always beneficial in deciding the tax liability. Let us revisit our annual feature of Making March Meaningful in view of the latest changes since last March-21.
  1. Plan for payment of advance Tax including surcharge:
    Taxpayers have to pay the tax in advance in four installments i.e., on or before 15th June (15%), 15th Sept (45%), 15th Dec (75%) &15th March (100%). Though minor variation is allowed, still taxpayers have to ensure the payment of tax by 15th March itself. Under the present scenario, the interest charged by the income tax department is very high as compared to alternative cost of funds. Taxpayers may estimate the tax liability and may compensate for the shortfall in the payment of tax in the last installment of advance tax which is due on 15/03/2021. It may be noted that the rate of surcharge for individual/ HUF has considerably increased as compared to preceding years i.e., it is 10% for income between Rs. 50 Lakh to Rs. 1 Cr, 15% for income between Rs. 1 Cr to Rs. 2 Cr, 25% of tax if income is between Rs. 2 Cr to 5 Cr & 37.50% of tax if income exceeds Rs. 5 Cr. Further, dividend income has also been made taxable. All this needs to be considered while making calculations for the advance tax. Further, in case the taxpayers have failed to estimate the income or under-estimated the income, taxpayers are advised to compensate it by paying the same before 31st March so as to avoid the levy of interest u/s 234B.
  2. Decision to Purchase or defer the purchase of Fixed Assets:
    Corona has resulted in drastic variation in the profitability figure of various entities. Few might have witnessed hefty rise in the profitability whereas the majority have witnessed drastic reduction. Very often, taxpayers purchase cars, laptops, computers, etc. in the month of March so as to claim depreciation without realizing the fact that profitability/financial statements don’t need any further expenses/ depreciation. This would be all the more relevant in the current financial year 2021-22 wherein the business was not fully operational throughout the year due to Covid. It is not always profitable to purchase the assets before March 31st. Similarly, in case of newly set up units, the assessee can decide the date of commencement of commercial production as the deduction towards depreciation is mandatory after the assets are put to use (it is not optional but mandatory).
  3. Check Annual Information Statement (AIS)/ Form No. 26AS:
    Income tax department is sharing various information received by it from various sources. Every Taxpayer should download & check AIS to verify the significant financial transactions as well the information related to TDS by the deductor. If the amount of TDS is not getting reflected in AIS, taxpayers must do the follow up with the deductor. Similarly, if any entry is found in the AIS which does not belong to the assessee then also efforts need to be taken for its removal from 26AS.
  4. Cleanup Your Loan Accounts:
    One issue which is often a matter of unnecessary addition, explanation & litigation during the course of income tax proceeding is unwanted debit and credit balances in the books of accounts. It is always advisable to keep the year end balances of loans, creditors, debtors etc. at a lower level as various compliance emerges due to its pendency in the financial statement as on 31st March. If the amount is not payable or receivable, then it is advisable to square off the same so as to avoid unwanted addition or disallowance during the course of assessment proceeding. Review of the books of accounts is all the more relevant nowadays as there are instances where income may be liable for a tax rate of 78% or the penalty amount could exceed the amount of tax. There are instances where the entries of purchase return, sales return, cash payment done but bills not recorded, etc are missing which get noticed while scrutinizing the books afterwards.
  5. Minimizing the taxable income by booking loss:
    – Let us consider a case of a taxpayer who has earned Long Term Capital Gain (LTCG) on sale of some of his shares which is taxable as income u/s 112A. It often happens that the taxpayer sells only those shares which are profitable and don’t sell the shares where taxpayers may incur loss. In such cases, taxpayers can also book a loss by selling some of the loss making shares. As a result, the taxpayer can reduce the amount of taxable profit and will be able to pay the tax on a real income basis and not just on realized gain basis. Shares sold at a loss can be purchased by such a taxpayer on the next day if they still want to hold it on a long term basis. The transactions can be planned in such a way that the LTCG amount doesn’t exceed Rs. 1 Lakh. LTCG from shares to the tune of Rs. 1 Lakh don’t have any tax impact. Same can be done in respect of business profit wherein outdated inventory, non-recoverable money from debtors i.e., bad debts, can be given due effect
  6. Planning for Expenses & Income:
    There are various incomes or expenditures which can be preponed or postponed legally. Review of the financial statements before 31st March can enable taxpayers to plan for its tax impact. Taxpayers can plan for it keeping in view the individual requirements. This is not only possible in the cash system of accounting but also possible in mercantile systems of accounting.
  7. Few other activities for March:
    There are various other decision which the taxpayers must take before 31st March like physical inventory position, re-checking the compliances with the TDS provision on expenses incurred during the year, ensuring that the benefit of carry forward of loss is not lost due to completion of the period of 4 years or 8 years by suitably booking the profit, reviewing the estimated financial position from bank perspective as the rating or interest rate would depend upon the financial ratio as on 31st March, Reconciliation of the GST returns as adjustment in the same year is advisable as it ensures better transparency and control, Deciding whether to continue with the regular scheme or composition scheme in GST, selling or deferring the decision to sale the capital assets, Planning for the distribution of the dividend of the closely held companies,
Conclusion:
Though around 3 to 6 months’ time is available with the taxpayers after March for filing income tax return, it is advisable to start the process of return filing earlier, as too much information is sought in the ITR & compiling the same may be time consuming. Further, the past experience has proved that the Government is not very flexible in extending the due date of filing income tax returns. March is the best time to compile & keep the data ready for subsequent return filing.  Review on the points referred above would help taxpayers in earlier finalization & filing of income tax returns. The benefit of efficient tax planning at March end may help taxpayers not only in saving tax but also in filing Income Tax Returns timely much before the due date. Needless to say, last moment finalization and filing has its own cost & consequences. Taxpayers can prepare a checklist & activity chart for timely return filing.
 [Readers may forward their feedback & queries at taxtalknew@gmail.comOther articles & response to queries are available at www.theTAXtalk.com ]

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