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New income tax forms to seek details of foreign travel, bank A/Cs
April, 18th 2015

When you file your tax returns in July, you will have to submit details of any foreign trip that you have undertaken, including the expenses borne by you.

The tax authorities have made several additions to the income tax return forms for the assessment year 2015-16 seeking details about foreign assets and income from any source outside the country, and details of all bank accounts held in India at any time during the previous year. A taxpayer will have to give details of any bank account opened or closed during the previous year, including those where a taxpayer has a signing authority. Further, it wants information related to immovable property, financial interest in companies and details of trusts created outside the country.

In case of domestic bank accounts, taxpayers are required to provide the name of the bank, IFSC code of the branch and also mention whether it is a joint account.

The tax authorities' move to include new information is part of the fight against black money but is facing criticism from tax consultants who said the government is asking for too much data.

The government has taken several steps to usher in a "non-adversarial tax regime" and has laid strict guidelines for dealing with taxpayers and projecting a friendly image.

In case of foreign travel the taxpayer will have to provide the passport number, the country visited, number of foreign trips and the source of funding of the trip.

Tax experts said earlier there was a requirement for taxpayers to file returns if they travelled abroad even if they did not have taxable income under the one by six scheme.

"Any additional details required to be submitted to tax authorities should only be such which is not otherwise available with the government," said Rahul Garg, the head of direct tax practice at PwC.

The 14-page ITR-2 form also aims to include the Aadhar number of the taxpayer.

Tax experts said the addition of new information could make the process of filing returns difficult for taxpayers.

"It is onerous to provide some of the details that are being sought, especially those related to travel and even the requirement for disclosures related to domestic bank accounts. We will also need clarification on capital assets and if there is a threshold above which disclosures are required," said Sonu Iyer, partner at Ernst & Young.

"There will also be difficulties around tax relief under a treaty arrangement since several other countries work on a calendar year basis, while India has a financial year which is different," she said.

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