Presumptive Taxation (44AD), Eligibility, Features, Benefits, Challenges

17/02/2024 1 By indiafreenotes

Presumptive Taxation Scheme under Section 44AD of the Income Tax Act, 1961, is a testament to the Indian government’s efforts to simplify the tax regime for small businesses. By allowing eligible taxpayers to declare income at a prescribed rate without maintaining detailed accounts or undergoing audits, the scheme promotes ease of doing business and compliance. However, while it offers significant benefits in terms of reduced compliance burden and potential tax savings, taxpayers must carefully consider their eligibility and the scheme’s limitations before opting in. For businesses operating on thin margins or with significant deductible expenses, it might be beneficial to compute taxes under the regular provisions. Ultimately, the choice between presumptive taxation and the regular tax regime should be based on a thorough analysis of the business’s specific circumstances and a clear understanding of the implications of each option.

Overview of Section 44AD

Section 44AD is part of the Income Tax Act, 1961, which facilitates a simpler taxation method for small taxpayers engaged in any business, except those in the profession as specified under Section 44AA(1), plying, hiring, or leasing goods carriages referred to in sections 44AE, or those earning income in the form of commission or brokerage. This scheme allows for the declaration of income at a predetermined rate of 8% of the total turnover or gross receipts for the financial year. For businesses that conduct transactions digitally, this rate is further reduced to 6%, encouraging digital transactions and enhancing transparency.

Eligibility Criteria

The presumptive taxation scheme under Section 44AD is designed for resident individual taxpayers, Hindu Undivided Families (HUFs), and partnership firms (excluding LLPs). To be eligible, the total turnover or gross receipts of the business during the financial year should not exceed INR 2 crores. This threshold ensures that the scheme targets small and medium-sized enterprises, providing them with a tax regime that is easy to comply with.

Key Features

  • Simplified Tax Computation:

Taxpayers can declare their income at a prescribed rate (8% or 6%) of their turnover, without needing to maintain detailed books of account.

  • Audit Exemption:

Taxpayers opting for this scheme are exempt from the otherwise mandatory tax audit under Section 44AB, provided their turnover does not exceed the prescribed limit and they declare income in accordance with the stipulated rates.

  • Advance Tax:

Taxpayers under this scheme are also relieved from paying quarterly advance tax. The entire amount of advance tax is payable by 15th March of the financial year.

  • Lower Compliance Burden:

The scheme significantly reduces compliance requirements, including detailed record-keeping, which is particularly beneficial for small businesses with limited resources.

Benefits of Presumptive Taxation (44AD)

  • Simplified Compliance

Taxpayers are not required to maintain detailed books of accounts for their business. This significantly reduces the administrative burden and simplifies the process of managing business records.

Businesses opting for this scheme with a turnover of up to Rs. 2 crores are not required to get their accounts audited. This exemption from audit reduces compliance costs and saves time.

  • Lower Tax Liability

Taxpayers can declare income at a presumptive rate of 8% of their turnover or gross receipts for transactions other than those made through banking channels, and 6% for transactions received through digital modes or banking channels. This can potentially lower the tax liability if the actual profit percentage is higher.

  • Ease of Tax Planning

The presumptive taxation scheme offers predictability in tax liabilities, making it easier for businesses to plan their finances and tax payments without worrying about variations in actual income and expenses.

  • Cash Flow Benefit

By potentially lowering the taxable income, businesses might benefit from tax savings, improving their cash flow. This is particularly beneficial for small businesses that operate on thin margins.

  • Avoids Tax Discrepancies and Litigation

Since the income is presumed, there’s a lower likelihood of tax authorities scrutinizing the accounts, leading to fewer tax disputes and litigation. This provides peace of mind to the taxpayer.

  • Encourages Tax Compliance

The simplicity of the scheme encourages more businesses to file their income tax returns, thereby improving tax compliance among small businesses.

  • Flexibility to Opt-out

Taxpayers have the flexibility to opt out of the scheme in any year if they believe it’s not advantageous, provided they comply with the regular tax provisions in the subsequent five years to avoid scrutiny.

Limitations of Presumptive Taxation (44AD)

  • Restriction on Deductible Expenses

Businesses opting for the presumptive taxation scheme cannot deduct business expenses, since the income is estimated at a flat rate (8% or 6% of the turnover). If actual expenses are higher, businesses might end up paying more taxes than they would under the regular taxation system.

  • Applicability Limitations

Not all businesses can opt for the presumptive taxation scheme. This scheme is primarily designed for small businesses and excludes professionals (who have a separate scheme under Section 44ADA), LLPs (Limited Liability Partnerships), and companies.

  • Turnover Threshold

The scheme is applicable only if the total turnover or gross receipts of the business do not exceed Rs. 2 crores in the financial year. Businesses with higher turnover must opt for regular tax provisions, which include maintaining detailed books of account and getting them audited.

  • Ineligibility for Certain Deductions

Businesses opting for Section 44AD are not eligible to claim any deductions under Sections 30 to 38, which include rent, insurance, benefits for newly established units in special areas, depreciation, etc.

  • Mandatory Digital Transactions for Lower Rate

To declare profits at the lower rate of 6%, receipts must be via digital transactions or banking channels. Otherwise, the presumptive income rate is 8%, which might not be beneficial for businesses with a significant volume of cash transactions.

  • Commitment for 5 Years

If a taxpayer opts out of the scheme after any year, they cannot opt back into the presumptive taxation scheme for the next five years. During this period, they must maintain detailed books of accounts and are subject to tax audit requirements if applicable.

  • Impact on Loan Applications

Since the scheme involves declaring income on a presumptive basis, it might not reflect the true profitability of the business. This can sometimes pose challenges when applying for loans or credit, as financial institutions often require detailed financial statements and audits to assess creditworthiness.

  • No Carry Forward of Losses

If a business incurs a loss, or the expenses actually exceed the presumptive rate, the taxpayer cannot report a loss or carry it forward if they opt for the presumptive taxation scheme under Section 44AD.

How to Opt for Section 44AD

  • Eligibility Check:

Ensure that your business falls under the categories eligible for opting under Section 44AD. This includes resident individuals, Hindu Undivided Families (HUFs), and partnerships (excluding LLPs) engaged in eligible businesses.

  • Threshold Check:

Verify that your total turnover or gross receipts for the financial year do not exceed the threshold limit specified under Section 44AD. As of the latest information available, for the financial year 2022-2023, the threshold limit is Rs. 2 crores. Ensure you comply with this limit.

  • Voluntary OptIn:

If your business meets the eligibility criteria and the turnover threshold, you can opt for the presumptive taxation scheme under Section 44AD. This is done by filing your tax return with the declaration that you choose to be taxed under this section.

  • Filing of Tax Return:

When filing your income tax return, declare your income at the presumptive rate specified under Section 44AD, which is generally 6% or 8% of the gross turnover or receipts. You don’t need to maintain detailed books of accounts or get them audited under this scheme.

  • Declaration in Tax Return:

While filing your tax return, indicate that you are opting for the presumptive taxation scheme under Section 44AD. This declaration should be made in the relevant section of the tax return form.

  • Compliance:

Ensure that you fulfill all other tax compliance requirements such as payment of advance tax, filing of tax deducted at source (TDS) returns, and any other applicable tax filings.

  • Review Annually:

Evaluate your business situation annually to determine whether it’s still beneficial for you to continue under Section 44AD. If your turnover exceeds the threshold limit, you may need to explore other taxation schemes.

  • Seek Professional Advice:

If you’re unsure about whether opting for Section 44AD is the right choice for your business, seek advice from a qualified tax professional or chartered accountant. They can assess your specific circumstances and help you make an informed decision.