New Delhi: The income-tax department has notified a simplified one-page tax-return form aimed at making it easier for taxpayers to file their annual returns.
At the same time, the new form also requires taxpayers to make additional disclosures—including mandatory linking of tax returns with an individual’s Aadhaar number—which will help curb tax evasion.
Not only will this make it easier for 50% of the country’s 40 million taxpayers and encourage more people to file their tax returns, the new disclosures will also encourage better compliance.
A press release issued by the tax department says individuals earning up to Rs50 lakh and possessing one house will need to file only a single-page tax return form called ITR-1 (Sahaj) for financial year 2016-17.
However, the department has mandated that the taxpayer will have to disclose any cash deposit above Rs2 lakh made during 9 November and 30 December as it moves to track instances where high-value cash deposits post-demonetization do not match with the income profile of the taxpayer.
Further, in line with the changes proposed to the income-tax Act, providing the Aadhaar number or the Aadhaar enrolment number in the income-tax return form has been made mandatory.
The tax department has also rationalized various columns relating to tax computation and deductions for easy compliance.
“This will reduce the compliance burden to a significant extent on the individual taxpayer. This initiative will benefit more than two crore taxpayers who will be eligible to file their return of income in this simplified form,” said the income-tax department in a statement.
However, taxpayers who have more than one house will have to file a much more detailed ITR-2.
The number of income-tax return forms have also been reduced from the existing nine to seven. Further, only those individuals above the age of 80 years or whose income does not exceed Rs5 lakh and have not claimed any refund of income tax will be able to file paper returns.
Earlier, taxpayers filing ITR-1 and ITR-2 could file paper returns and claim a refund.
Also, the tax department has now made it mandatory to report exempted long-term capital gains in the tax return form; dividend income also has to be disclosed.
“The government has shifted focus to those earning upwards of Rs50 lakh and having income from sources other than salary with multiple home ownership. Income-tax return filing will be detailed for them. Besides, the government has kept up the momentum on efforts of demonetization,” said Archit Gupta, founder and CEO of ClearTax, a website which helps people file tax returns.
Around 37 million people filed their income-tax returns in 2015-16, of which 9.9 million reported annual income below the exemption limit of Rs2.5 lakh, 19.5 million reported an annual income between Rs2.5 lakh and Rs5 lakh, 5.2 million showed income between Rs5 lakh and Rs10 lakh and only 2.4 million people showed income above Rs10 lakh, according to the tax department.
Further, only 172,000 people reported income above Rs50 lakh in the entire country. A majority of the individual assessees reporting income above Rs5 lakh were from the salaried class.