What if you don’t file even a belated tax return?
Besides the penalties and other disadvantages that a belated tax return invites, the income-tax department can send you a notice of inquiry (under section 142(1)) or a notice of income escaping assessment (section 148). Through these notices, it can seek clarification on why the tax return was filed late, and you will be asked to file the return online as per the date specified in the notice. There may also be penalties.
If you don’t receive any notice and you have a genuine reason for not having filed the return, “you may send a written request to the AO (assessment officer) for filing a return,” said Gupta. You can do this even after the last date, that is 31 March of the AY, but the permission will depend on AO’s discretion.
If you don’t reply to the notice or don’t file your return within the stipulated time mentioned there, your problem can escalate, depending on the tax due. “If the person has taxable income and still doesn’t file a tax return, then in addition to penalty for non-filing of return, the person may also be subject to a penalty for under-reporting of income at 50% of the tax payable on under-reported income,” Criminal proceedings, too, can be initiated in some cases.