Simplified income tax return forms are less tedious

Finance ministry notifies new ITRs which do not seek unnecessary information

GN Bureau | June 1, 2015


#income tax   #tax returns   #foreign travel   #bank accounts   #finance ministry  

A chastened government has introduced simplified and shorter income tax return forms after dumping intrusively long ITRs. The government has also extended the last date for filing of returns by a month to August 31.

The new forms — ITR 2 and ITR 2A — will have only three pages and other details will have to be filled in schedules, said a ministry statement on Sunday.

These simpler income tax return forms replace a 14-page form notified in April that would have made filing tax returns a tedious process. The older tax return forms had sought extensive details about foreign trips, bank balances and capital gains accruing to a taxpayer as the government sought to pursue tax evaders.

Under the new ITRs taxpayers will not have to disclose details of all foreign travel undertaken by them and the expenditure incurred but they will just submit their passport numbers. Taxpayers will also have to disclose all their bank accounts; however, they need not have to mention the amount in their accounts. The changes were aimed at curbing black money.

Certain bills have now provision to gather details of individuals’ earnings and spending. The black money bill to check black money stashed abroad requires compulsory disclosure of foreign assets and income and subjects evaders to stiff penalties and jail terms. In addition, with the tax department seeding permanent account number (PAN) with Aadhaar—a unique identity number that is already linked to many bank accounts—the government may be able to effectively bring tax evaders to book.

The government said it will introduce a new simplified income tax return form ITR 2A for individuals who have income from more than one house property—residential asset—but no capital gains accruing to them.

“As a measure of simplification, it has been endeavoured to ensure that in Form ITR 2 and the new Form ITR 2A, the main form will not contain more than three pages, and other information will be captured in the Schedules which will be required to be filled only if applicable,” the statement said.

ITR 2 was required to be filled by individuals and Hindu undivided families having income from more than one house property and capital gains.

It also partially relaxed the requirement of listing all bank accounts and their balances.

In a respite for non-residents, the government also removed the clause for them to mandatorily report their foreign assets.

“An individual who is not an Indian citizen and is in India on a business, employment or student visa (expatriate), would not mandatorily be required to report the foreign assets acquired by him during the previous years in which he was non-resident if no income is derived from such assets during the relevant previous year,” the government said.

Individuals having exempt income without any ceiling (other than agricultural income exceeding Rs 5,000) can now file form ITR 1 (Sahaj). Similar simplification is also proposed for individuals/HUF in respect of form ITR 4S (Sugam), it added.

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