2 min read
25 May 2021

You are required to file income tax every financial year, and so you may look up tips for filing income tax or learn how to calculate taxable income. You may be required to get a tax audit to ensure that your accounts are up to date. Take a look at what a tax audit is and its role in determining your tax liability.

What is a tax audit?

To put it simply, a tax audit is a legal way of verifying your income and expenditure based on the claims you make. As per the Indian income tax guidelines, any company or person earning an income as specified by certain sections of the Income Tax Act is eligible to undergo a tax audit.

This means you will first have to understand whether your gross income and expenditure in one financial year qualify you for an audit or not. Then, as per the requirements of the section under which you qualify, you will have to abide by certain protocols, maintain accounts, and have them reviewed by a CA.

Who is liable to get a tax audit done?

As per the income tax laws, if your turnover during a financial year exceeds Rs. 1 crore, you are liable to get your tax audit done by a chartered accountant. Additionally, following amendments proposed during FY 16–17, if your gross income is beyond Rs. 50 lakh as a professional, you will have to get a tax audit done. Moreover, if you own a business with a lower turnover and find a mention in Section 44BB, Section 44BBB, Section 44AD, Section 44ADA, Section 44AE, or Section 44AF, you will need to get an audit done as well.

Take a look at all you need to know about tax audits and maintenance of books under a few such sections of the Income Tax Act.

Section 44AB

Under Section 44 AB of Income Tax Act, audit of accounts is compulsory if:

  • Your business’s gross turnover exceeds Rs. 1 crore in any preceding year, or if your profession’s gross receipts are more than Rs. 50 lakh in any preceding year.
  • Your business or profession is presumptively covered under Sections 44ADA/44AE/44BB/44BBB , and your profit is less than the specified limit.
  • If you have more than one business or profession, the turnover for all need to be summed up to determine if an audit is necessary.

The tax audit date for this section is 30th September of the assessment year. To file the audit report, you will have to use form 3CA and form 3CD, which is a statement acknowledging the particulars you have stated in form 3CA.

Section 44AA

Section 44 AA of the Income Tax Act gives these directives on maintaining your accounts while carrying out a business or profession:

  • If you are a professional practising in a field such as medicine, law, engineering, architecture, accountancy, technical consultancy, interior decoration or film industry-specific work, and your gross income is less than Rs. 1,50,000 in all 3 years preceding the most recent year, then you need to maintain prescribed books such as a cash book, journal, ledger, daily case registers, and a stock register.
  • If you do not have a specified profession and your gross income receipts exceed Rs. 10,00,000 in any of the 3 years preceding the most recent year, you will have to maintain books of accounts. These books need to be the ones that enable the assessing officer to compute your total income.
  • If you are covered under Section 44ADA/44AF/44BB/44BBB, and your income is lesser than the specified limit, then maintaining books to support your claim is optional.

To reduce the burden of taxation on small businesses, the government has offered presumptive taxation as an option. Under this scheme, a business isn’t required to maintain regular accounting books. Instead, it can declare its income at a set rate. You can opt-in or out of this scheme if you are eligible for the same. However, if you opt out of this scheme, you cannot opt in again for at least 5 years.

Presumptive tax was framed using two sections, i.e., Section 44AD and Section 44AE of the Income Tax Act. If you opt for the presumptive taxation scheme and your business income goes beyond the set limit, you will need to have an audit conducted to confirm the same.

Section 44AD

If your turnover from the previous year does not exceed the Rs. 2 crore limit, then under Section 44AD of the Income Tax Act, you can opt for presumptive taxation. However, to do that, you need to be:

  • An Indian resident
  • A resident of a Hindu Undivided Family
  • A resident partnership firm

If you do not fall in one of these three categories, you cannot apply for presumptive taxation. It is important to remember that Limited Liability Partnership firms are not eligible to apply for presumptive taxation. Further, you cannot apply for presumptive taxation if you have claimed deductions under Section 80HH to 80RRB, 10A, 10B, 10AA or 10BB of the Income Tax Act.

If you are availing of presumptive taxation, your income will be computed at the presumptive rate of 8% or 6%. You will not be allowed to claim the various allowances and disallowances specified by the law. You will also not be able to claim a separate deduction for depreciation.

If you op for presumptive taxation and your income exceeds the basic threshold limit, you will need to maintain books. Suppose you declare profit that is not following Section 44AD for 5 consecutive years, adding up to the recent year. In that case, you will not be able to claim the benefits of this provision for 5 subsequent years starting from the year of declaration.

Section 44AE

Section 44AE is only applicable for small businesses that conduct activities like hiring, plying, or leasing goods carriages. Your business must not have more than ten goods carriage vehicles, and you cannot claim deductions for expenditures such as depreciation.

Section 44ADA

The presumptive taxation scheme added a new section, Section 44 ADA, with effect from 1 April 2017, to reduce the burden of taxation on smaller businesses. This section abolishes the need to maintain books as tax is calculated as a percentage of total sales.

To be eligible for this scheme, you need to be an Indian resident who is an individual, HUF or represents a partnership but not a Limited Liability Partnership. Further, your business needs to fall under categories such as:

  1. Engineering
  2. Legal
  3. Architectural
  4. Accountancy
  5. Medical
  6. Technical consultant
  7. Interiors

Other professionals such as authorised representatives, film artists, certain sports-related persons and company secretaries are also part of this list.

Under Section 44ADA of the Income Tax Act, you can opt in and out of the presumptive scheme without the five-year restriction. However, Section 44 AA of the Income Tax Act also mentions that you will need to maintain books if you claim a lower profit than that specified under Section 44ADA or if your total income exceeds the basic exemption limit.

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