The new norm for filing income tax returns, which has evoked angry protests, will be reviewed once Finance Minister Arun Jaitley returns from Washington, top officials said here on Saturday.
“The finance minister spoke to me from Washington. He asked me to make the format simpler. He said the government must be proactive and he quickly decided to review the new income tax returns’ format,” Revenue Secretary Shaktikanta Das told IANS.
“The additional information was actually sought was to deal with the unaccounted cash. This was also one of the recommendation of the SIT on black money,” he said referring to the Special Investigation Team set up by the Narendra Modi government at the behest of the Supreme Court.
Asked when the decision will be taken, Das said: “I can’t say now when the format will be revoked. We have to follow a process. All I can say now is that the format will be reviewed.”
Jaitley was in Washington for the spring meetings of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), as also to attend the meeting of the finance ministers and central bank governors from G20 countries.
Commerce Minister Nirmala Seetharaman also said the finance minister had responded to the issue. “(The finance minister) shall review the additional income tax compliance requirements. (He) aims to simplify the process,” she said in a tweet.
Three days ago the Central Board of Direct Taxes had notified the new norms and the attendant forms that, among other issues, required an assessee to furnish all the bank details, as also the sources of funds, for any overseas travel.
Tax experts had held that even though the government may have intended to target black money with the new forms, the requirement that assessees have to disclose their bank accounts and details of foreign visits would make the process of filing returns that much more cumbersome.
“The disclosure requirement on the number of accounts and those opened and closed is interesting,” Vineet Agarwal, partner, international accounting firm KPMG in India, told IANS, referring to the norms notified for the 2015-16 assessment year.
“A lot of people have a number of bank accounts. They also leave some of these accounts passive, or inactive. These have to be divulged in the new set of forms for e-filing of returns,” he added.
On foreign travel, the returns are required to disclose the passport number of the assessee, the countries and the frequency of visit in the financial year, as also the expenses incurred, if any, from own sources of income on such trips.
“Given that disclosures are required for the financial year 2014-15, one would need to collate and analyse the expenses incurred on trips made in the recently-concluded tax year,” Tapati Ghose, partner, Deloitte Haskins and Sells LLP, said.