Biz leaders meet Jaitley; want tax return forms simplified

Biz leaders meet Jaitley; want tax return forms simplifiedNEW DELHI: India Inc today disfavored tax man seeking details about foreign trips and bank accounts in income tax returns after a controversy erupted over the new ITR forms which have been put on hold.

This was conveyed by business leaders during a meeting with Finance Minister Arun Jaitley who had sought the opinion of leading industry chambers CII, FICCI and Assocham on the new 14-page ITR, which had drawn flak from various quarters.

The industry representatives said after the meeting that Jaitley assured them that the government will look into simplifying the ITR and make them simpler so that the process of filing returns gets quicker.

Among other issues, they raised concerns over the requirement of providing details of all foreign trips, including company-paid ones, as also the mandatory reporting of every bank account that could make the return-filing process cumbersome.

They felt reporting of all fixed deposits as unnecessary as tax on interest was as such deducted by banks and PAN was already mandatory for FDs, sources said.

Jaitley told them that the intention behind the new form was to check black money and not to put the salaried class through any inconvenience, sources said. The Minister is also believed to have sought views of the industry on steps required to check the black money menace.

The industry representatives opined that the requirement for reporting expenses incurred on all foreign trips was difficult, as collecting information on company-paid business trips was cumbersome.

They said that the requirement should either be withdrawn or at least be limited to personal foreign travels.

They also wanted only specific information to be sought in the ITRs, rather than ‘lengthy, ambiguous and detailed information on bank accounts’. . While the industry also wanted the persons undertaking one or two foreign travels to be exempted from mandatory reporting, Jaitley was of the view that such persons might not be returning the excess foreign exchange after their return, sources said.

On the requirement of reporting foreign assets and income from any source outside India, the industry represented that it might prove to be difficult for expats or foreigners working in India, with dependent spouses.

They also raised issues regarding the requirement of obtaining Tax Residency Certificate (TRC) and sought exemption from mandatory e-filing in case of tax refund, irrespective of the income level.

“We discussed why tax forms are getting complicated. It might deter genuine taxpayers. Finance Minister said that the forms need to be relooked into. We must provide extra annexure for people to provide extra information. But under no circumstances, should we allow or make it easier for black money to flourish,” CII President Sumit Mazumder said after the meeting.

CII suggested that the disclosure of foreign trips should be for private visits only, while the threshold for bank account disclosure was also discussed, he added.

“Our fundamental point was that it (ITR) should not be ambiguous. Our concern is that it is adding to the common man’s burden,” FICCI’s former President Siddharth Birla said.–PTI

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