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New tax forms ease detailing of foreign travel, bank accounts


After complaints by individual income tax payers over the new forms announced in April, the government on Sunday notified a fresh set — each of no more than three pages — and did away with the much-resented details sought on foreign travel and bank accounts.

Since the process is still on to recast the software to enable e-filing of the returns, the last date for filing has also been extended to August 31, it was announced by the finance ministry on Sunday.

Notably, against the details of foreign travel and the expenditure thereon required from some categories of tax payers, the new forms require only the passport number, including that of the old one, if available or issued.

Another clause grudged was over the bank accounts details and the balances, in them for both operational and the dormant ones. Now, only the Indian Financial System Code is required for all accounts. Exemption from this has been extended to accounts dormant for over three years.

The finance ministry had acknowledged that the new tax forms had caused much concern.

"The government has received representation on the new return forms notified on April 15, 2015 and taking into account the concerns raised, the government has decided to modify the return forms," Finance Minister Arun Jaitley told the Rajya Sabha earlier this month.

The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) had notified the new norms that required an assessee to furnish all bank details, accounts opened or closed in the year with the closing balance, as also the sources of funds for expenses in an overseas travel.

The purpose of asking details relating to foreign travel, according to the finance minister was to tackle the menace of black money. He had further sought to justify the forms by saying fresh details were not required in forms filed by the majority of individual taxpayers.

The highlights of the new forms are:

– Individuals with income without any ceiling, other than agricultural income exceeding Rs.5,000, can now file Form ITR 1 (Sahaj). Similar simplification for individuals and Hindu undivided families (HUFs) in respect of Form ITR 4S (Sugam).

– A new Form, ITR 2A, can be filed by individuals or HUFs who does not have capital gains, income from business or profession, or foreign asset and foreign income.

– In lieu of foreign travel details, only passport number, if available, would be required to be given in Forms ITR-2 and ITR-2A. Details of trips or expenditure thereon not required.

– On bank account details, only the IFS code and the number of current and savings accounts held during previous year will be required. The balance is not required. Details of dormant accounts, not operational for last three years, not required.

– A foreigner in India on a business, employment or studies visa, not mandatorily required to report foreign assets acquired during the previous years in which he/she was non-resident — if no income is derived from such assets during the relevant previous year.

– To simplify further, the main pages of Form ITR 2 and new Form ITR 2A, will not contain more than three pages. Other information will be captured in Schedules, required to be filled only if applicable.

"As the software for these forms is under preparation, they are likely to be available for e-filing by the third week of June 2015," a statement issued by the finance ministry said.

"Accordingly, the time limit for filing these returns is also proposed to be extended up to August 31, 2015 (31.08.2015). A separate notification will be issued in this regard," the statement added.