The finance ministry released a new three-page income-tax return form on Tuesday, leaving out columns on foreign trips and dormant bank accounts, which had invited criticism and forced the government to come out with a new version.
The new version signals the rollback of the 14-page forms notified in April that required details of overseas travel, the money spent on such trips and the sources of these funds among others, triggering howls of protest as it caught 35 million individual tax payers unawares. Experts had also questioned the need to collect such details as it could have led to "harassment" by tax officials.
In the new version you will have to disclose your Aadhaar number, two email addresses and passport number "if available".
Filers will have to declare only the "total number of savings and current bank accounts" held by them "at any time during the previous year (excluding dormant accounts)," with their account numbers. Also, taxpayers will only have to provide the IFSC Code of his or her bank accounts as the new version has done away with the need to fill in details of funds in these accounts.
IFSC is an eleven character alpha-numeric code assigned by RBI to identify every bank branches uniquely.
The taxpayers can indicate the preferred bank account for crediting of tax refund.
However, declaring foreign assets as well as income from those assets, if any, has been made mandatory. Besides, you have to make a declaration if you are a signing authority in any of the accounts or assets held abroad, or any income from any source outside India.
The last date for filing of the ITR has already been extended to August 31 for 2015-16 against the earlier deadline of July 31.
The new ITR 2A form can be filed by an individual or Hindu Undivided Family (HUF) who does not have capital gains, income from business/profession or foreign asset/foreign income. It covers the maximum number of tax payers.
The new form, apart from its 3 pages, has a 10-page schedule, which needs to be filed on a case-to-case basis, depending on incomes of individuals.
In case of an expat who is not an Indian citizen and is in the country on business, employment or student visa, the new ITR form does not make it mandatory to report foreign assets acquired during previous years when he/she was a non-resident, and if no income was derived from such assets during the relevant previous year.