Getting letters from the Income Tax department? Don’t panic!

Here's what you can do if you receive letters from the Income Tax department.
Getting letters from the Income Tax department? Don’t panic!
Getting letters from the Income Tax department? Don’t panic!
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If you have been receiving text messages or letters from the Income Tax Department lately, don’t panic! They are standard letters that are sent out. Although some of them may be strongly worded, there is nothing to panic about. Here are some of the letters you may receive from the Income Tax Department, and what you can do about it.

Non-furnishing of Return of Income under section 139(1)

This is perhaps the most common letter that citizens receive from the department - especially salaried individuals. This letter is sent out to those who have PAN numbers and have their TDS credited to their it but haven’t filed their returns.

If you’re a salaried individual, this is because the Form 16 that you receive from your employer is not an income tax return – it is merely a calculation.

If you aren’t salaried but still received this letter, it is because you earned income from some other source on which tax has been deducted -  such as interest or income that you may have received for services rendered by you.

These letters may be strongly worded, and some might even mention imprisonment, but all you need to do to solve it is to file your returns on or before the due date specified in the letter. If you have never filed your returns before, you will have to register on the Income Tax Portal first and then file your return.

The process is quite simple if you are only earning a salary or interest income. On the other hand, if you are a freelancer, it is best if you consult a professional. Either way, all that is required from you is your Income Tax return.

Intimation under section 143(1)

If you have filed your return, you will receive a letter from the Income Tax department once it has been processed. This intimation is computer generated and will point out basic errors (if any) in your tax payment.

If you have calculated tax correctly, then you will not be required to do anything. However, if there is an error and you didn’t pay enough tax, you will be required to pay the tax, ideally within a month of receiving the letter. You can pay the tax at your local bank branch – ask for the ‘Challan Number 280’.

If there is a refund, the same will be credited to your bank account in a week.

Defective Return under section 139(9)

A defective return is one that has been filed in an incomplete or incorrect manner. Once again, this is evaluated by the Income Tax software. This notice or letter is fairly common among freelancers, professionals and small business owners who file their returns. Go through the letter to find out where the discrepancy is and see if you understand it. Otherwise, please take it to a professional, especially if you got it filed by one. You will be required to file a correction and you can do so online.

Refund Failure Communication

If you file your return and are due for a refund, the Income Tax Department will credit the refund directly into your bank account through RTGS or NEFT.

However, in case there is a mistake in your account details or if there is a mismatch in the name, the refund will not be processed. You will have to file a ‘refund reissue’ request online on the Income Tax department website, and the refund will be credited to your account once the reissue request is processed - in about a month.

Notice under section 143(2) or section 148

If you receive a notice under section 143(2) which looks to scrutinize your income tax return or a notice under section 148, where the income tax officer has reason to believe that you have income which has ‘escaped’ assessment, do not ignore it. Consult a trusted finance professional as soon as possible.

The above five kinds of letters are ones that you could potentially receive from the Income Tax Department. Whether you receive these or any other letter from the department, do not think that it is a reason to panic! Read through them calmly and try to understand what they’re telling you. Remember that no matter what the issue is, you can always sort it out.

Rupee Rani is a weekly column on finance for women. Write to us with your queries at

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