The Income Tax Department on Saturday extended the deadline for individual assessees to file their tax returns till December 31.

“The Government has been receiving a number of representations regarding need for extending due date of filing Annual Return (FORM GSTR-9) and Reconciliation Statement (FORM GSTR-9C) for 2018-19 on grounds that on account of the COVID-19 pandemic related lockdown and restrictions, normal operation of businesses have still not been possible in several parts of the country,” the Union Ministry of Finance said. “It has been requested that the due dates for the same be extended beyond 31st October 2020 to enable the businesses and auditors to comply in this regard.”

The ministry said that considering this and the opinion of the Goods and Services Tax Council, it has been decided to extend the due date for filing annual returns and reconciliation statement to December 31, 2020.

“It may be noted that filing of Annual Return (FORM GSTR-9/GSTR-9A) and Reconciliation Statement (FORM GSTR-9C) for 2018-19 is optional for taxpayers who had aggregate turnover below Rs 2 Crore,” the ministry said. “The filing of reconciliation statement in FORM 9C for 2018-19 is also optional for the taxpayers having aggregate turnover up to Rs 5 Crore.”

In May, the Centre had extended the last date of filing income tax returns for the fiscal year of 2019-’20 from July 31 and October 31 to November 30, in view of the halt in economic activity due to the coronavirus outbreak.

India’s coronavirus case count on Saturday rose to 78,14,682 after 53,370 new infections were reported in 24 hours. The country’s toll went up by 650 to 1,17,956. There are 6,80,680 active cases, and 70,16,046 recoveries in the country.