As many as 5.42 crore income tax returns were filed this year before the August 31 deadline. This is over 71% higher than the 3.17 crore returns filed in the 2017-’18 financial year, the Income Tax Department said on Saturday.

“We have been urging people through text messages and emails to file their tax returns on time,” an unidentified income tax official told Mint. “Now both return filing as well as tax payment are easy. Taxpayers also get refunds as early as 15 days after return filing.”

The I-T Department added that close to 34.95 lakh returns were filed on the last day, August 31. It said that the number of returns filed by salaried individuals rose by almost 54%, from 2.19 crore last year to 3.37 crore in 2018-’19.

Those who have missed the August 31 deadline can file their income tax returns till March 31, 2019 with a fine.

The tax authority also said that the number of returns filed by persons availing the benefit of presumptive tax grew by over 681%, from 14.93 lakh returns last year to 1.17 crore this year. Presumptive taxation allows the individual to declare their total taxable income at a predetermined rate.