Taxes play a crucial role in a nation’s development, and ensuring their proper collection is a top priority. Income Tax Audit, a term that might sound daunting, is an essential tool in this endeavour. Let’s delve deeper into the nuances of Income Tax Audit in India, exploring its meaning, objectives, applicability, forms, due dates, and the penalties associated with non-compliance.


Understanding Tax Audit: The Basics

At its heart, an audit is an examination or review. Different laws require different types of audits – companies undergo company audits, while cost accounting law necessitates cost audits. Under the Income-tax Law, businesses and professionals are required to have their accounts audited, focusing on compliance with income tax regulations. Section 44AB of the Income-tax Act outlines the criteria for individuals mandatorily subjected to this audit. Its purpose is to ensure adherence to tax laws and regulations, with the audit being conducted by a chartered accountant. This process culminates in an audit report presented in Form Nos. 3CA/3CB and 3CD.



tax audit


Objectives of Tax Audit

The objectives of a tax audit are multifaceted. Primarily, it addresses the reporting requirements laid out in Form Nos. 3CA/3CB and 3CD. Additionally, a tax audit serves to validate the accurate maintenance of financial records. It verifies that the income declared by the taxpayer truly reflects their earnings and that claims for deductions are valid. This audit acts as a deterrent against fraudulent practices, bolstering the integrity of the tax system. Moreover, it streamlines the process for tax authorities, enabling them to focus on intricate assessments rather than mundane verifications.


Who is Subject to Tax Audit?

Section 44AB outlines the categories of taxpayers subject to mandatory tax audits:

1. Business Entities

Individuals engaged in business with total sales, turnover, or gross receipts exceeding Rs. 1 crore. Exceptions apply if one opts for the presumptive taxation scheme under section 44AD and total sales or turnover remain under Rs. 2 crores.


2. Professionals

Practitioners whose gross receipts from a profession exceed Rs. 50 lakhs.


3. Declared Profits

Taxpayers declaring profits under section 44AD, later decreasing these profits for any of the five consecutive assessment years, leading to income surpassing the non-taxable threshold.


4. Presumptive Scheme Opt-Out

Eligible individuals for presumptive taxation schemes under sections 44ADA or 44AE, yet opting for lower profits than the presumptive scheme.


5. Other Taxation Schemes

Individuals eligible for taxation schemes under sections 44BB or 44BBB, choosing lower profits than those computed under these schemes.



tax audit


Forms and Due Dates

The audit reports are formalized through specific forms – Form Nos. 3CA/3CB and 3CD. The deadline for obtaining and filing the audit report with the Income-tax Department is September 30th of the relevant assessment year. For instance, the audit report for the financial year 2022-23, corresponding to the assessment year 2023-24, must be obtained and filed by September 30, 2023. The audit report is submitted electronically by the chartered accountant and requires approval from the taxpayer through their e-filing account with the Incometax Department.




Penalties for Non-compliance

Non-compliance with the tax audit requirements as per section 44AB could result in penalties. As stipulated by section 271B, the penalty imposed will be the lower of 0.5% of total sales, turnover, or gross receipts, or Rs. 1,50,000. However, if a reasonable cause for non-compliance is established, no penalty will be enforced.

In summary, Income Tax Audit is an integral process to ensure precise financial reporting, adherence to tax laws, and prevention of fraudulent practices. While it might appear intricate, its core objectives remain transparent: promoting accountability, transparency, and equity within the tax ecosystem.