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AIR to door: Taxman wont come knocking at will
July, 11th 2006

The recent uproar over the income tax department seeking cash flow statements of individual tax payers could result in some safeguards being provided to the assesee against undue harassment by tax officials.

The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) is set to bar assessing officers from directly sending notices to tax payers if they detect any mis-match between the investments declared in the cash-flow statement and those captured in the annual information returns (AIR) collected from third party sources.

The AIR has so far captured 18 lakh high-value transactions by individuals totalling Rs 13 lakh crore.

Notices on these, if any, will have to be sent only after the prior approval of the commissioner of income tax (CIT). The proposed move intended to prevent misuse of information provided in the cash flow statement by tax authorities, said a senior government official.

Taxpayers have the option to fill the cash-flow statement for assessment year 06-07 alongwith the new Form 2F which is the four page expanded version of Naya Saral. This form is for salaried tax payers who do not have business income or agricultural income or capital gains or those who do not have more than one house.
The cash-flow statement reflects the cash received and paid within a financial year.

A salaried tax payer who fills this statement has to indicate his cash balance and bank balances as on April 1, 05, besides his income during the year. Other receipts, including exempt income, loans or gifts taken or received during the year will also have to be furnished in the statement.

On the expenditure side, the tax payer has to give the total outgo under three broad categories. One, investment or expenditure where he claims a deduction (under Chapter VI A such as on contributions to PPF) of the Income Tax Act. Two, other investments such as immovable property, vehicles, bonds, jewellery, shares, units, other financial instruments.

Details of each item of inflow and outflow are, however, not required. The tax payer has to only indicate the total amount. For instance, if he operates more than one bank account, only the aggregate bank balance has to be given no break up is required.

The aggregate cash, bank balance at the start of the year and the incomings during the year have to match the aggregate outgoings, cash and bank balances at the end of the year. The information given by the tax payer can be verified with the details collected from third party sources such as banks, mutual funds, credit card companies, registrar of immovable property through the AIR.

A preliminary verification of the AIR information with the cash flow statement will reduce the probability or scrutiny assessment, reckon officials.

The entire exercise is meant to ensure that an individual does not have assets disproportionate to his known sources of income.

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