New tax return forms seek more information

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NEW DELHI: The government released on Friday new income 0tax return forms , which seek more disclosures from those who claim exemption on a large agricultural income, directors on the boards of companies, individuals with foreign assets or bank accounts as well as those holding shares in unlisted companies.

In a major change, the facility of filing paper returns will now be available only to those over 80 years. The government has said that ITR-1 or the Sahaj form will have to be filed by resident individuals with a total income of up to Rs 50 lakh from salary or pension, one house property, other sources such as interest income, and agricultural income up to Rs 5,000. Individuals are required to file returns for FY2018-19 by July 31.

For the salaried, details of some of the allowances, such as house rent, leave travel, per diem, children's education and relocation, too, will need to be shared. Earlier the tax authorities had sought details of taxable allowances but now there is a switch to exempt allowances.

Additional details need to be provided in case agricultural income exceeds Rs 5 lakh, which will include the district with pin code where the land is owned, the measurement of land and irrigation details.

"Several changes have been introduced to seek further details for cross-validation of income/information in an enhanced automated environment. This not only promises more efficiency for the government but also lesser questioning from tax authorities seeking further details while processing the returns. It will also help to check income escaping cases," said Kuldip Kumar, partner at consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Those with overseas assets will need to provide details of foreign depository account, foreign custodian accounts, equity and debt interest and particulars of overseas cash value insurance contract or annuity contract.

"Taxpayers need to be very careful this time and will need to collate additional details/reporting requirements well in advance this year, in order to be able to fulfil the reporting requirements prescribed in new ITR forms. We also expect greater automated scrutiny of ITRs, based on extensive data/details required and furnished in ITRs," said Shailesh Kumar, director at Nangia Advisors.

The tax department has also sought details from those who are non-residents. "The tax return forms have clearly tried to bring more transparency through disclosures for globally mobile employees who avail of relief under tax treaty. Details of residence in foreign countries, along with tax identification number, additional disclosure of assets held outside India, basis of determination of residential status in India and availability of tax residency certificate from foreign countries are some of the additional details which would be required to be quoted in the return of income," said Amarpal Chadha, partner at EY India.

This will help the government check if non-residents such as software professionals working overseas are paying taxes as information will now be available under the automatic information exchange protocol, explained PwC's Kuldip Kumar.

Also, a break-up of cash and non-cash donations made will need to be provided in case you want to claim tax benefits for contributions made under the PM Relief Fund or to an eligible blind school.