The income earned by non-resident Indians abroad is not subject to tax in India. However, if their income in the country crosses the basic exemption limit of Rs 2 lakh, they are required to file their returns. This income could be in the form of interest on deposits, rental income on property in India, etc.
Also, if NRIs carry out transactions in securities like shares and mutual funds, the capital gains are liable to tax and, hence, the return must be filed. The due date for filing returns by NRIs is 31 July.
When to file
The returns have to be filed if the income exceeds the taxable limit, or to claim refund if the tax deducted at source is more than the tax payable, or to claim the amount set off against capital losses.
The documents to be submitted include the passport to show the number of days spent outside India to qualify as an NRI. Besides this, the NRIs need to provide the statements for the demat accounts, for the transactions and bank accounts held in India, as well as the TDS certificates received from other parties.
The NRIs can also claim exemptions available to individuals under the Income Tax Act (unless specifically not applicable to NRIs), such as Section 80C, with respect to certain investments, payment of principal on housing loan, etc. The taxable income can be reduced by availing of these exemptions.
The NRIs can file their tax returns online on the Income Tax Department e-filing portal. Alternatively, they can use other private, paid e-filing portals to do so, or even take the help of tax advisers.
Points to note
It is not necessary for an NRI to file tax returns if the total income during the relevant financial year consists only of investment income or long-term capital gains, or both, and the tax has been deducted at source from such income.