New Process of Filing Tax Return Becomes More Taxing

New process of filing of tax returnAccording to The Economic Times: The Finance Bill 2012  proposes that new process of filing tax return is becoming more taxing.One should appreciate the intent and focused attention of Indian tax authorities to improve the tax filing experience, like introduction of online filing of tax return forms and making it mandatory for a specified category, the Centralized Processing Centre, and outsourcing the process to external vendors. While the corporate governance policies require companies to mandatorily disclose various aspects to all stake holders, the tax authorities have taken one step ahead to apply ‘disclosure’ principles for individuals. The Finance Bill 2012 proposes that, with effect from tax year 2011-12, every resident individual who has an asset outside India has to file the tax return mandatorily irrespective of income. In other words, income is not the only criteria to file an income tax return in India. While the Finance Bill is yet to be passed by the Parliament, tax authorities have acted swiftly and brought out the tax return forms (Forms ITR-2, 3 and 4) in line with the above requirements. The new forms that have been notified include a separate schedule wherein the details of foreign assets are to be reported. The schedule specifically requires the details of bank accounts, financial interest in any entity and immovable property. It also requires the assessee to furnish the details of ‘any other asset’ and ‘accounts where the individual has signing authority’. It is very interesting to note that the wordings used in the Finance Bill or in the tax return ‘any asset’ is wide enough to cover all assets held by an individual outside India. It should also be noted that they require specific information like peak balance in bank account during the year. On a separate note, if you have income or loss from a jointly-owned house property, there is a need to disclose the relevant share in the property, the name and PAN of the joint owner. Further, if you are claiming deduction for charity and donations, you have to provide the details such as name, address and permanent account number of the donee. If you are claiming relief under the Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement for the taxes paid in foreign country, then the details such as country name, tax identification number in that country, income and taxes paid in that country, need to be furnished. Additionally, the electronic filing of tax return has been made mandatory for individuals having total income more than Rs 10 lakh and for a Resident individual who has any asset outside India. These disclosures and online filings will help the tax authorities to get more visibility into the tax payer’s data and help them to scrutinize the same in detail. Further, the online filing process helps in quick processing of tax return and issuance of refund, selection of cases for scrutiny on certain criteria, and convenience for tax payers etc. Although, the above requirement may bring more information to the tax authorities, but the same brings a lot of hassles for individuals and the tax return filing will become a complicated task going forward. An important question that comes to one’s mind is whether the above provisions would be applicable to an individual who is a Resident, but Not-Ordinarily Resident (NOR). As per the provisions of the Income Tax Act, a person has to be a Resident to become a NOR and hence, it could be said that, a NOR individual would also be required to report his foreign assets. On the other hand, the income of NOR, which is sourced and received outside India is not taxable in India and hence not required to be reported in the tax return. The same principle could be applied for disclosure of foreign assets as well. Given the ambiguity, a clarification from the tax authorities on the applicability of disclosure norms to an NOR will be of great help. Though, the major changes in the tax return forms and filing process is a well-thought initiative, the same should not result in undue hardship to an individual and people should be provided enough time to organize their documents to meet the new requirements.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.