The Income Tax Department has extended the deadline for the filing of income tax returns (ITR) for the assessment year 2020-21 till January 10. The extension of the deadline is for those individuals whose accounts are not required to be audited and who usually file their income tax return using ITR-1 or ITR-4 forms, as applicable, the Department said in a press release on Wednesday. Earlier, the last day for filing ITR was December 31.

In its statement, the I-T department said the decision was made “in view of the continued challenges faced by taxpayers in meeting statutory compliances due to outbreak of COVID-19”.

This is the third time that the government has extended the deadline to file ITR — first from the normal deadline of July 31 to November 30, 2020, and then to December 31, 2020, according to The Economic Times.

As per the revised schedule, the deadline for other taxpayers whose accounts are required to be audited (including partners of a firm) and/or those who have to submit report in respect to international financial transactions has been extended to February 15, 2021.

The government has also extended the date of furnishing the tax audit report to January 15, from the current deadline of December 31. The last date of furnishing declaration under the ‘Vivad se Vishwaas Scheme’ has also been extended to January 31.

According to the rules, individuals below 60 years of age earning Rs 2,50,000 or more annually are mandatorily required to file ITRs, whereas, the limit for senior citizens or those between 60 years and 80 years of age is Rs 5,00,000.

This year the government has raised the penalty amount for missing the deadline, by imposing a fine up to Rs 10,000 as opposed to the Rs 5,000 imposed last year. The practice of charging late filing fees under section 234F was introduced in the Budget of 2017 and became effective for the financial year 2017-18 or assessment year 2018-19 onward.