What is a defective return notice u/s 139(9) and how to respond to it?

Imagine this: you’ve filed your tax return, thinking you’ve aced it, only to find out it’s marked as ‘defective.’ Don’t break a sweat just yet – let’s explore mystery together!

What is a defective return?

So, you’ve hit that “File” button, thinking your ITR filing is over. But lo and behold, you receive a notice saying your return is “defective.” What’s that all about? It’s like getting a pop quiz after you thought you’d aced the exam.

When some information is missed while filing your ITR or is entered wrongly, the return is regarded as a defective return. In such cases, the IT Department issues a defective return notice in accordance with Section 139(9) to correct the inaccuracies in the return.

When is a defective return notice issued?

Defective returns notice usually come knocking when essential details are missing or incorrect – maybe you forgot to sign, or your PAN is incorrect. Section 139(9) steps in here, giving you a chance to correct these oopsie moments.

How is notice u/s 139(9) issued?

ITD will issue the notice u/s 139(9) on your email ID entered while filing the income tax return. The sender of these emails is usually Central Processing Centre (CPC). The email’s subject is ‘Communication u/s 139(9) for PAN AWZXXXXXXX for the A.Y.2020-21’.

The defective return notice is attached to the email and is password protected. The password to open the notice is PAN in lower case and the date of birth in DDMMYYYY format. Eg: mnopq1212c12101987 for PAN: MNOPQ1212C and DOB: 12/10/1987.

What to do if you receive this notice?

Now, here’s where it gets interesting. You have a limited window to fix the hiccups – usually within 15 days from the notice date. It’s like a grace period to polish up your return and ensure it aligns with the ITDs guidelines.

Once you’ve made corrections in your return, you need to resubmit the return. If all’s well, you’re back in the game; if not, there might be further instructions from the ITD in the future.


If you receive a notice, take a deep breath, review what went wrong, and get it back on track.

Remember, nobody’s perfect, and sometimes a little “defective” label is just an opportunity to fine-tune your tax return.

Read more about How to Respond to 139(9) of Income Tax Act - Learn by Quicko


Originally published at: How to Respond to 139(9) of Income Tax Act - Learn by Quicko

The obligation to file an Income Tax Return (ITR) annually is a universal mandate for all individuals. However, given the intricate nature of tax laws and the infrequency with which most taxpayers engage with them, filing errors and discrepancies are very common. Hence, in such situations, Income Tax issues a defective return notice under Section […]

Hi @emmy

There are 3 steps to follow:

  1. Submit a Tax Audit Report prepared by CA,
  2. Prepare a revised return,
  3. File response on Income Tax E-filing Website.

Hope this helps!

I filed my return with tax dues and got notice u/s 139(9). What should I do if the time limit has expired for response u/s 139(9) and I wish to file a response?

I forgot to mention balance sheet details in ITR-3 and received a notice. What is the solution?

Hi @emmy

There are 2 steps to resolve defect and file a response with the Income Tax Department:

  1. Prepare a revised return including balance sheet details,
  2. File response on Income Tax E-filing Website for the notice.

Hey @emmy

You can file the revised return from your login on Income Tax E-filing Website. File this return u/s 139(5) and not under 139(9) with details of the original return.

Here is a screenshot of order downloaded from E-Proceedings Tab on IT portal.

It has a note saying “An opportunity was given to you to correct the defects of the return in accordance with section 139(9) and the present communication is being sent after taking into consideration taxpayer response, if any.”

As per your article here - it says The taxpayer has to respond within 15 days of receiving the notice.
But I did not receive any such opportunity to respond to defective return notice u/s 139(9).

My query is:

  • Should I file a new return ? OR
  • Whether to raise a query on grievance portal regarding non receipt of defective notice ?


Firstly, you will have to log in to the e-filing portal. Go to pending actions>response to outstanding demand. Here, you will be able to see the date on which the notice was issued to you.

Now, in case the notice was issued and you were unable to reply on time, you will have to file a new ITR.

But, if you did not receive any notice, you can raise a grievance.

Hope this helps!

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