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The dictionary meaning of the term "audit" is check, review, inspection, etc. There are various types of audits prescribed under different laws like company law requires a company audit, cost accounting law requires a cost audit, etc. The Income-tax Law requires the taxpayer to get the audit of the accounts of his business/profession from the view point of Income-tax Law.
Section 44AB gives the provisions relating to the class of taxpayers who are required to get their accounts audited from a chartered accountant. The audit under section 44AB aims to ascertain the compliance of various provisions of the Income-tax Law and the fulfillment of other requirements of the Income-tax Law. The audit conducted by the chartered accountant of the accounts of the taxpayer in pursuance of the requirement of section 44AB is called tax audit.
The chartered accountant conducting the tax audit is required to give his findings, observation, etc., in the form of audit report. The report of tax audit is to be given by the chartered accountant in Form Nos. 3CA/3CB and 3CD.
As per section 44AB, following persons are compulsorily required to get their accounts audited :
section 44BB is applicable to non-resident taxpayers engaged in the business of providing services or facilities in connection with, or supplying plant and machinery on hire basis to be used in exploration of mineral oils.
section 44BBB is applicable to foreign companies engaged in the business of civil construction or erection of plant or machinery or testing or commissioning thereof, in connection with a turnkey power project.
Persons like company or co-operative society are required to get their accounts audited under their respective law. Section 44AB provides that, if a person is required by or under any other law to get his accounts audited, then he need not again get his accounts audited to comply with the requirement of section 44AB. Is such a case, it shall be sufficient if such person gets the accounts of such business or profession audited under such law and obtains the report of the audit as required under such other law and also a report by the chartered accountant in the form prescribed under section 44AB, i.e., Form No. 3CA and Form 3CD
A person covered by section 44AB should get his accounts audited and should obtain the audit report on or before the due date of filing of the return of income, i.e., on or before 30th September (*) of the relevant assessment year, e.g., Tax audit report for the financial year 2017-18 corresponding to the assessment year 2018-19 should be obtained on or before 30th September, 2018.
(*) In case of a taxpayer who is required to furnish a report in Form No. 3CEB under section 92 in respect of any international transaction or specified domestic transaction, the due date of filing the return of income is 30th November of the relevant assessment year.
The tax audit report is to be electronically filed by the chartered accountant to the Income-tax Department. After filing of report by the chartered accountant, the taxpayer has to approve the report from his e-fling account with Income-tax Department (i.e., at www.incometaxindiaefiling.gov.in).
According to section 271B, if any person who is required to comply with section 44AB fails to get his accounts audited in respect of any year or years as required under section 44AB, the Assessing Officer may impose a penalty. The penalty shall be lower of the following amounts:
(a) 0.5% of the total sales, turnover or gross receipts, as the case may be, in business, or of the gross receipts in profession, in such year or years.
(b) Rs. 1,50,000.
However, according to section 273B, no penalty shall be imposed if reasonable cause for such failure is proved.