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Taxpayers Beware! Specifications in ITR Forms to make it difficult for assessees to stay indifferent
May, 17th 2019

Due to the lack of awareness or prevailing trends, many tax payers used to skip information needed to fill all the applicable fields of Income Tax Return (ITR) Forms, while filing their tax returns.

Due to the lack of awareness or prevailing trends, many tax payers used to skip information needed to fill all the applicable fields of Income Tax Return (ITR) Forms, while filing their tax returns. To make assessees aware of relevant fields, the Income Tax Department, in this year’s ITR Forms, has specified the information exactly needed in most of the fields, where only the sections of the Income Tax Act were mentioned earlier.

The mention of only section numbers used to make it difficult for assessees to fill up the forms completely and also made them skip some relevant information while filing their ITR earlier despite signing the declaration that he/she is competent to file the return.

Apart from ignorance on the tax payers’ part, their reluctance to reveal additional details to the person, who used to file the return on their behalf, or reluctance of such persons filing returns for others to seek and fill all the relevant fields also made it a practice to skip the fields.

For example, last year Ashit (name changed), who used to work for a CA farm, asked Manoj (name changed), a salaried individual, to provide details of his salary structure and interest earned in his active savings bank accounts, when Manoj approached Ashit to help him in filing his return and provided the Form 16 and details of tax-saving investments. Instead of providing the details, Manoj entered into an argument with Ashit saying that the person, who used to file return for him, never asked for such details. Ashit explained that the salary structure is needed as fields like “Salary (excluding all allowances, perquisites and profit in lieu of salary)”, “Allowances not exempt”, “Value of perquisites”, “Profits in lieu of salary” and “Deduction u/s 16” were introduced for the first time, on the basis of which, the Excel Utility would calculate “Income chargeable under the head ‘Salary’” automatically. Ashit also said such details were not needed earlier as the salaried assessees need to mention the “Income chargeable under the head ‘Salary’” only, but expressed his dismay on Manoj’s unwillingness to reveal interest on savings bank account as the provision was introduced in 2013. When Manoj insisted that Ashit file the return without these details, Ashit asked Manoj to visit the person, who doesn’t seek such details and get the return filed.

While Manoj works in the NCR region, the same thing happened when Deepak (name changed) approached Ashit to help in filing return for his wife, who is a school teacher in Assam. Surprisingly, both acknowledged later that they got the returns filed without providing such details. So, it is clear that neither all the tax payers nor the return filers are serious about providing all the details and lack of proper scrutiny makes them get away with such practices. However, actual responsibility lies with the assessees, as they sign the declaration saying they are competent to file the ITR and information provided are true, unless they take help of Tax Return Preparers (TRPs) or professionals like CAs.

“If there is anything, which has been asked for in the income tax return but has not been disclosed, this would lead to non-compliance and penalty may be levied for the same. Therefore, the taxpayer should exercise due caution while filing the income tax return and submit proper data in each and every field,” says CA Karan Batra, Founder & CEO of CharteredClub.com.

However, filing issues are not only for salaried individuals. Take example of Mrinal (name changed), an individual involved in the business of supplying stationary items especially to Post Office branches of a town in Assam, has expressed his helplessness to Ashit as he couldn’t get his returns filed properly despite providing all the information. He tried different persons, who file returns, but they continued to file his return in ITR-4 and that too after the due dates, despite the fact that ITR Form ‘Sahaj’ was converted to Form ITR-4 two years back, which now needs to be filed by those who opt for presumptive income like professionals, doctors, filmstars, etc, while the earlier ITR-4 was converted to ITR-3 same year and is now applicable to Mrinal for the last two years. As the ITR for both the years were filed late in wrong Forms, Ashit asked him to wait for the Income Tax Department to issue a notice asking to file rectified return in the correct Form. However, surprisingly, no such notice was issued and Mrinal got his refund amount credited in his account for both the years.

With the introduction of specifications along with section numbers, it is expected that there will be enhanced awareness about the information to be provided against which heads. For example, earlier only consolidated figure of “Income from other sources” was needed, which is now to be provided separately against separate heads like – “Interest from Savings Account”, “Interest from Deposit (Bank/Post Office/Cooperative Society)”, “Interest from Income Tax Refund”, “Family pension” and “Any Other”. With the “Interest from Savings Account” in the first place under “Income from other sources”, it is expected that assessees and return filers can’t stay in denial mode anymore.

However, more automation is needed in scrutiny process to detect discrepancies like mentioning of savings bank account, but no mention of “Interest from Savings Account” or continuation of same ITR Form, whenever there are change in ITR Forms for different categories of assessees, etc.

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