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New income-tax return forms to be far more simplified, assures Finance Minister Arun Jaitley
May, 18th 2015

The controversial new income tax return forms, which had been put on hold, will be "far more simplified", Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said today, but kept the suspense on if the requirement of disclosing all bank accounts and foreign travels will be retained.

He said after having public consultations, he has asked the income tax department to come up with the simplest form, which is available.

"They (CBDT) are coming out with a proposal. Now that I am free from Parliament, they will put up before me," he told in an interview when asked whether the number of pages of the forms will be cut down from thirteen and a half.

Asked whether the queries on foreign travel and bank accounts, considered by many as intrusive, would be dropped in the revised form, the Minister said: "You wait, but I can only tell you it will be far more simplified".

He seemed to suggest that the questions about foreign travel and all bank accounts would be limited to a section of tax assessees.

"... As far as 8 or 9 out of 10 tax payers are involved, their form has to be very simple...There are various kinds of details, which are to be filled up may be absolutely redundant for them," Jaitley said in reply to a question on the queries in the forms that triggered a controversy.

The simplified I-T return form is being brought after the earlier version was opposed by industry, MPs and assessees for its cumbersome disclosure norms.

"I am in favour of the easing. This was twelve or twelve and a half page form, which has existed. Three or four more questions were added...So it became thirteen and a half pages.

"I was in Washington when I came to know of this. I immediately called up and said stop it because to me whether it was twelve and a half or thirteen and a half, both seem a little excessive," Jaitley said.

The salaried individuals and those persons who do not have business/professional income are required to file income tax returns in either ITR-1 or ITR-2 by July 31.

Following the controversy over the new ITR forms, which sought details of bank accounts and foreign visits, the revenue department announced putting them on hold.

The ITR forms, which was notified last month by the CBDT for the current assessment year, had specific columns for banks accounts, IFSC Code, names of joint account holders and foreign visits, including the ones paid by the companies.

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