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With simplified forms, Income Tax department eases return pain

The income tax department has provided a huge relief to individuals and HUFs by simplifying the return forms, which had caused a lot of consternation among taxpayers.
In April, the CBDT notified ITR forms for individuals/ HUFs with cumbersome disclosures, but these were withdrawn within a day because of representations from various groups. Apart from introduction of a new form — ITR 2A — the I-T department has now proposed ITR 1, ITR 2 and ITR 4S to be simplified, though additional disclosures have definitely gone up compared to last year.

ITR 1 (SAHAJ) is meant for individuals with income from salaries, one house property and other sources. It is proposed that this form will now cover exempt income without any ceiling (other than agricultural income exceeding R5,000).

ITR 2 is meant for individuals/ HUFs not having income from business or profession. It covers capital gains and income from more than one house in addition to the income sources covered by ITR 1.

At present, ITR 2 is used by individuals/ HUFs having income from more than one house and capital gains. The government has proposed to introduce a new form, i.e., ITR 2A from this year, which can be used by individuals/HUFs not having capital gains income, income from business/profession or foreign assets/income.

Moreover, both these forms will not contain more than three pages unlike the form last year, which had 14.

ITR 4S (SUGAM) is used by individuals with presumptive income earned in India through prescribed eligible means. It is proposed that ITR 4S shall also include the exempt income disclosure like ITR 1. In respect of foreign travel details, excessive disclosures like details of foreign trip or expenditure incurred will not be required to be filled up. Instead, only passport Number would be required to be given.

As far as bank account details are concerned, it is proposed that only the IFS Code and account number of all the current/ savings account, which are held at any time during the previous year, will be required to be mentioned. It is also proposed that the balance in accounts and details of dormant accounts not operational since last three years, which were required in the ITR forms released in April this year, will not be required to be furnished.

It is further proposed that 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 earlier years in which he was non-resident if no income is derived from such assets during the relevant previous year.

It comes as a big relief for the expatriates who come to India for employment and may qualify for resident and ordinary resident (ROR) in India considering their duration of stay in India.

As the software for these forms is under preparation, the time limit for filing returns in these forms is also proposed to be extended from July 31 to August 31 this year.

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