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What is Income Tax Notice?

Income Tax Notice

What is Income Tax Notice?

Receiving an income tax notice can be daunting, especially if you believe you’ve paid all your taxes and filed your returns correctly. Understanding these notices can make them seem less intimidating. Income tax notices are official communications from the Income Tax Department requiring your specific actions. They differ from simple intimations, which generally don’t require a response. Most notices include a unique documentation identification number and are issued through a centralized communication system, ensuring you know exactly what is expected. This article provides a comprehensive examination of Income Tax Notices.

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At IndiaFilings, our IT experts are on standby to assist you in responding to Income Tax notices.

What is an Income Tax Notice?

An income tax notice is issued by the Income Tax Department to request specific information or highlight deficiencies in a taxpayer’s form or return. While the notice may include a demand for tax payments or penalties, it always seeks clarification or additional details from the recipient.

Types of income tax notices and how to respond to them

A person may receive several income tax notices, each about specific violations or requests for clarification under different sections of the Income Tax Act. Understanding the types and how to respond to them is crucial.

Notice under Section 142(1) – Inquiry Notice before Assessment

This type of notice is issued when the Income Tax Department requires additional documents to process your income tax return. It serves as a preliminary inquiry before the assessment begins.

How to respond to a notice under Section 142(1)

You should respond to this notice directly through the Income Tax Department’s online portal, eliminating the need to visit the I-T office physically. The response involves either submitting the requested documents or providing valid reasons for being unable to do so. Ignoring this notice is not advisable, as it could lead to further legal actions.

Notice under Section 143(1) – Intimation

This is issued after you file your income tax return. The Income Tax Department has the authority to send this notice, often called an intimation notice, within a year after processing the return. It informs you of any additional tax due that wasn’t declared in your return or notifies you of any refunds due.

This intimation is usually automated and sent to the email address registered with the Central Processing Centre. Sometimes, a text message may also be sent to the assessee. The notice may highlight issues such as deductions not allowed by the department, discrepancies from Form 26AS, or miscalculations of penalties or interest.

How to respond to a notice under Section 143(1):

  • Agreement: If you agree with the assessment:
  • Tax Due: Pay the additional tax using the correct challan number.
  • Refund Due: If a refund is due, it will be credited to your account automatically; no action is required on your part at this time.
  • Disagreement: If you disagree with the notice:
  • You can file for an online rectification under Section 154.
  • You can also appeal under Section 246A if you believe the assessment was incorrect.
  • No Discrepancy: If the details in the notice match your return and you find no errors, no further action is required on your part.

Notice under Section 143(2) – Scrutiny Assessment Notice

This notice is issued primarily for scrutiny purposes, which can be random or through computer-based selection. It aims to verify that the taxpayer has not understated income, claimed excessive losses, or underpaid tax in any way.

The scrutiny can be:

  • Limited: Focused on specific sections of income or deductions.
  • Complete: Involving a detailed review of the entire tax return.
  • Manual: Based on annual parameters set by the Income Tax Department.

How to respond to a notice under Section 143(2):

When you receive a scrutiny notice under Section 143(2), you must submit the physical documents requested by the department. If these documents do not satisfy the department’s inquiries, it may also issue orders under Section 143(3).

Suppose you do not respond within 30 days of receiving the notice. In that case, the assessing officer may proceed to issue an assessment order under Section 144, which involves estimating income and tax liability based on available information, potentially leading to additional tax liabilities. Prompt and complete compliance is crucial when dealing with a Section 143(2) notice.

Notice under Section 148 – Commence Proceedings

This notice is issued when the income tax assessing officer believes that some income may not have been fully assessed, suggesting potential underreporting. Before any reassessment action is taken, taxpayers are allowed to present their case. Additionally, the assessing officer must provide reasons for suspecting that some income has escaped assessment.

How to respond to a notice under Section 148:

  • Review the Reasons: Initially, review the reasons provided by the assessing officer for issuing the notice. It is important to understand why they suspect income has not been fully reported.
  • Compliance: If the reasons are justified and you find discrepancies in your reported income:
  • Pay the Tax and Penalty: You must rectify the underreported income by paying the necessary tax and any applicable penalties.
  • Challenge the Notice: If you believe the reasons for the notice are not valid or the notice has been issued in error:
  • Legal Challenge: You have the option to contest the notice legally. It’s advisable to consult with a tax professional or attorney to guide you through the process and represent your case effectively.

Responding promptly and accurately to a Section 148 notice is crucial to avoiding further legal implications and potential financial penalties.

Notice under Section 156 

This is a notice of demand issued by the Income Tax Department requiring the taxpayer to pay a specified tax or penalty. The notice details the amount due and provides a deadline for payment, typically set at 30 days from the date of the notice.

How to respond to a notice under Section 156:

  • Agree with the Demand: If you agree with the demand, log in to the Income Tax e-filing portal and pay the amount due using the appropriate challan number.
  • Disagree with the Demand: If you disagree, log into the same portal and formally submit your reasons for disagreement.
  • Partly Agree with the Demand: If you only partially agree with the demand, pay the portion you agree with through the portal and provide reasons for disputing the remainder.

Like a full disagreement, consider approaching the court to obtain a stay on the portion of the demand you contest.

In each scenario, it’s crucial to act within the specified time frame to avoid penalties or additional enforcement actions by the Income Tax Department. Consulting with a tax professional or attorney can provide valuable guidance and representation, especially if legal action is necessary.

Notice under Section 245

This type of notice is issued by the Tax Department when there is an upcoming tax refund that you are entitled to, but the department intends to adjust this refund against any past tax liabilities you might have.

How to respond to a notice under Section 245:

  • Agree with the Adjustment: If you agree with the proposed adjustment, log into the tax portal and confirm your agreement with a click. This action will allow the department to offset your refund against your past dues.
  • Disagree with the Adjustment: If you disagree with the demand for adjustment, you must log into the tax portal and submit your reasons for disagreement. It’s important to clearly articulate why the adjustment should not be applied, such as errors in calculation, already cleared dues, or any other relevant details.

In either scenario, acting promptly by accessing the tax portal is crucial to manage your response efficiently. This will help ensure that your tax records are accurate and that you receive any refunds you’re due without unnecessary delays.

Notice under Section 139(9)

This notice is issued when the tax authority identifies that the tax return filed by a taxpayer is defective. Common issues that can trigger such a notice include calculation errors or missing or incomplete information in the return.

How to respond to a notice under Section 139(9):

Review the Notice: Carefully examine the notice to understand the specific errors or omissions pointed out by the tax authority.

  • Rectify the Return: Log into the tax portal and prepare to refile your return. Ensure that the revised return addresses and corrects all the issues highlighted in the notice.
  • Submit the Corrected Return: Once you have made all necessary corrections, submit the updated return through the tax portal.
  • Responding promptly and accurately to a Section 139(9) notice is crucial to avoid further complications with your tax filings. Make sure to double-check your revised return for completeness and accuracy before submission.

Common Reasons for Receiving Income Tax Notices

You might receive income tax notices for several reasons, ranging from discrepancies in your tax return to unreported high-value transactions. Understanding these common reasons can help you prevent issues and respond effectively if you do receive a notice:

  • TDS Mismatch: If the tax deducted at source (TDS) amount you claim does not match the figures in the tax department’s records, Form 16 or Form 26AS.
  • Income Discrepancies: When the income you report does not align with the information in Form 26AS or other data available to the tax department.
  • Excessive Deductions: If the deductions claimed on your tax return exceed what is allowable based on your documentation or calculations.
  • Return Errors: Any discrepancies in your tax return, whether it’s filed late, not filed at all, or contains errors.
  • Unreported Bank Accounts or High-Value Transactions: Failing to report an active bank account or any high-value transactions, as required.
  • Random Scrutiny: Sometimes, returns are selected at random for scrutiny. You will receive a notice regardless of any discrepancies if yours is chosen.
  • Change of Job: Failing to include income from a previous employer, especially when changing jobs within the same fiscal year.

By keeping thorough records and carefully preparing your tax return, you can reduce the likelihood of these issues and ensure compliance with tax regulations.

Legal Implications and Consequences of Ignoring Income Tax Notices

Responding to income tax notices is mandatory. Failure to do so can result in penalties, or any refunds due could be used to settle past dues. More critically, non-compliance can lead to legal proceedings.

  • Addressing any tax notices by the specified due date is crucial to prevent legal issues and potential financial losses.
  • If you disagree with a notice, it’s advisable to consult with a legal representative before contesting it. This ensures you are well-informed about your rights and the best course of action.

Tips for Avoiding Income Tax Notices

Receiving an income tax notice can lead to unnecessary stress. To minimize the chances of getting such notices, it’s best to be proactive and ensure your tax filings are accurate and complete. Here are some practical tips:

  • Verify Your Tax Payments: Always ensure that the taxes you report as paid match the details in Form 26AS.
  • Report High-Value Transactions: Be diligent about reporting any significant financial activities to the tax department, such as:
    • Cash deposits or withdrawals exceeding Rs 10 lakh in savings accounts or fixed deposits.
    • Total cash transactions (deposits or withdrawals) of Rs 50 lakh annually.
    • Purchases of immovable property valued over Rs 30 lakh.
    • Cash payments of credit card bills over Rs 1 lakh.
    • Sales of foreign currencies worth more than Rs 10 lakh.
    • Cash payments exceeding Rs 10 lakh for prepaid instruments.
  • Accurate Disclosures in ITR: Ensure that your Income Tax Return includes all required disclosures, such as:
    • Deposits of more than Rs 1 crore in a financial year.
    • Foreign travel expenses exceeding Rs 2 lakh.
    • Electricity bills over Rs 1 lakh.
    • Income from foreign sources.
  • Maintain Accurate Records: Keep your financial records clean and meticulously documented.
  • File ITR Early: Avoid waiting until the last minute to file your tax return. Early filing can help avoid errors and last-minute rush.
  • Accurate Income and Deductions: Do not underreport income or inflate deductions and expenses. Honesty in reporting financial details is crucial to avoid scrutiny.

By following these guidelines, you can reduce the likelihood of receiving unwanted attention from the tax authorities and ensure smoother tax compliance.

Income Tax Notice for Salaried Employees

How to respond to Income Tax Notice Online?

While specific response measures for different types of income tax notices have been discussed, there are general precautions and steps that you should always consider when handling any tax notice:

Verify the Authenticity of the Notice

With the prevalence of online scams, it’s crucial to authenticate any tax notice you receive. Log into the official e-filing portal and navigate to the “Authenticate notice/order issued by ITD” section. Enter your PAN and verify using an OTP sent to your registered mobile number. Once authenticated, a genuine notice will appear on the portal.

Click here to learn more about How To Check And Authenticate Income Tax Notice Online

Check for the DIN Number

Ensure that the notice includes a Document Identification Number (DIN). This number is critical for verifying that the communication is officially from the Income Tax Department.

Understand Your Response Options:

Most notices will include sections that allow you to agree with the findings, respond with disagreement, or provide an option to upload necessary documents. Familiarize yourself with these options to respond appropriately based on your situation.

By following these steps, you can ensure that you respond to a legitimate income tax notice correctly and timely, avoiding potential complications.

Also, read Responding to Income Tax Notices After Filing ITR


Receiving an income tax notice can understandably cause anxiety. Often, these notices are triggered by simple oversights or errors in the tax return, so there’s no need to panic immediately.

However, it’s important not to dismiss these notices lightly. Carefully review each notice to determine the validity of the demand. If the demand is legitimate, promptly comply by paying the required amount or submitting the requested information. If you disagree with the notice, it’s wise to consult a tax expert before responding.

IndiaFilings’ experts can assist you in responding to any Income tax notices.

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