Received a Defective Income Tax Return Notice? Here’s How You Should Respond

While it is essential to be careful while filing tax returns, it is not uncommon for people to make mistakes. Returns filed with errors are considered ‘defective returns’ by the tax department. Under Section 139(9) of the IT Act, the tax department issues the ‘Defective Return Notice’ for rectifying the mistake. 

Here are some of the most important things you should know about this notice. 

  1. When is the Defective Return Notice Issued?

There can be several reasons why the tax department might issue the defective return notice. Here are some of the most common reasons. 

  • Incomplete tax returns or detail omission
  • Missing tax information, like TDS, TCS, self-assessment tax, or advance tax
  • TDS claimed as a refund, but income details missing
  • Return filed without paying taxes
  • Profit and loss statement and balance sheet not filed (in applicable cases)
  • Audit report or cost audit report not filed (as applicable)
  • Wrong form selection
  • Errors related to presumptive taxation
  • Errors in details like name, bank account number, etc. 
  • Other reasons considered by the tax department
  1. How to Respond to the Defective Return Notice?

If you’ve received the defective return notice, you must respond within 15 days of receiving the same. You can also write to the local assessing officer for an extension of 15 days. Here are the steps you can follow to respond to the defective return notice. 

  • Visit the e-Filing portal ( and log in to your account.
  • Open the e-File menu and click on Response to Notice u/s 139(9).
  • All the details like return filing acknowledgement number, ITR, the notice date, CPC reference number, status, response, etc. are displayed on the screen.
  • In the Response column, click on the Submit option.
  • The defects identified by the tax department will be displayed on the screen.
  • In the Do you agree with the defect column, click on Yes/No.
  • You can upload a reworked XML if you click on Yes.
  • If you believe that the error is a mistake by the tax department, you can click on No and enter your remarks in the Assessee Remarks column.
  • Once the response is submitted, you can also click on the View button under the Response column to check the submitted response.
  1. How to Withdraw a Response Submitted Against the Defective Return Notice? 

It is also possible to withdraw a response submitted against the defective income tax return notice within three days from submission. 

Under the Response column, click on the Withdraw button. Your response will be displayed on the screen with a checkbox and the Confirm Withdrawal button at the bottom. Select the checkbox and click on this button to withdraw your response. 

File Your Tax Returns Carefully

Crosscheck all the details and attachments while filing the tax returns to avoid mistakes. You can also consult a tax advisor to avoid any errors. 

If you do make any mistakes, you’ll mostly receive the defective return notice from the tax department. Follow the steps listed above to respond to the notice at the earliest. 

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Evelyn Adams