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A more friendly version of tax laws
August, 04th 2012

As you might know, is the new date by which the government wants you to file returns. There is a likelihood that those who have missed out last month will be busy doing some last-minute preparations now. As a tax practitioner, I am aware of first-hand difficulties people face during this process. Several of them are chronic and have been around for some years now. So far, authorities have turned a blind eye to these systemic flaws. But the DTC (Direct Taxes Code), which is on the anvil, holds out hope and is widely expected to iron out these procedural creases. Heres a detailed sketch of the taxation ills that need an immediate fix.

The first is the timeline itself. Theoretically, we have four whole months -- from April 1 to July 31 -- for the purpose of filing returns. However, the I-T department does not publish revised forms and related instructions until well past that date. Therefore, although in theory we are permitted, indeed entitled, to file our returns as early as we choose after April 1, in actual practice, we are officially barred from doing so until much later.

Up next is the role of banks and other investment institutions. Most do not provide Form 16A -- detailing tax deducted at source (TDS) on behalf of the investor -- often until June. And repeated requests to get the form issued earlier have all fallen on deaf ears. If at all one is lucky to elicit a response, its the systems are (conveniently) down. Even information regarding the accurate amount of interest earned is difficult to finalise in good time since interest certificates for the previous 12 months are issued sometimes until well into May. This hampers proper accounting of both incomes and TDS deducted, particularly relating to cumulative deposits.

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