The income tax (I-T) department on Tuesday released new tax return forms compressed into three main pages, dropping prying questions on foreign travel and exempting expatriates from reporting assets in their home countries that do not yield income.
The new forms for individuals not having income from business or profession, who need to file the ITR-2 form, need to answer detailed questions on capital gains and income from house property, only if applicable. Including the schedules to the return, the new ITR-2 form runs into 13 pages, whereas the earlier one had 14 main pages without any annexure.
The relaxation for expatriates is significant, as it removes the risk of subjecting those who have lived long enough in India to qualify as ‘residents and ordinarily residents’ to prosecution under the recently introduced black money law, for not reporting their overseas assets. India introduced foreign asset reporting requirements from financial year 2011-12.
Also, a new ITR-2A form has been released for those who have income from more than one house property but do not have income from business or profession or capital gain.
The government was forced to announce a simplified return after the 14-page ITR-2 return forms notified in April appeared intimidating to many tax payers, with its detailed questions on foreign travel and foreign asset disclosure. The new ITR-2 form says that expatriates who are in India on business, employment or student visa, need not report assets acquired during the reporting period if no income is derived from it. Indian resident citizens having foreign assets, however, need to report foreign assets details in the schedules as applicable.
Tax payers have time till August 31, 2015 to file returns under the revised forms. Those who have any of the tax exempt income specified in the elaborate section 10 of the I-T Act, can file the four-page ITR-1, or Sahaj, form, although it is not be specifically provided for them. The ITR-4S or Sugam form, for presumptive business income tax return, is also simplified.