Millennium Post

Revised ITR: Foreign trips funded by cos need not be divulged

The Finance Ministry is likely to exempt assesses from sharing details of company sponsored foreign trips in the revised Income Tax Return (ITR) forms, but may retain the disclosure of foreign bank accounts, sources said.

The simplified form, which is being brought after the earlier version was opposed by industry, MPs and <g data-gr-id="30">assessees</g> for cumbersome disclosure norms, is also likely to exclude disclosure of dormant domestic bank accounts as also those which do not have a minimum specified balance. “The tax department feels that <g data-gr-id="32">declaration</g> of company sponsored foreign trips could be kept out of disclosure,” an official source said.

As regards personal travel, the official said, that there could be an expenditure cap beyond which the trip would need to be disclosed in the revised ITR. “Only those incurring expenditure higher than a specified cap will have to fill in the annexure provided in the forms,” the official added. “Disclosure with regard to foreign bank accounts would stay as otherwise it would defeat the purpose of the black money legislation,” the official added. Parliament last week passed the Black Money (Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets) and Imposition of Tax Bill, 2015, which seeks to unearth unaccounted wealth stashed abroad. 

The tax department is likely to come out with the revised form by the month end, the official added. The final decision on simplification of the ITR forms (ITR-1 and ITR-2) would be taken by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley before the end of the month, the official said. The salaried individuals and those persons who do not have business/professional income are required to file income tax returns in either ITR-1 or ITR-2 by July 31. 

Following the controversy over the new ITR forms which sought details of bank accounts and foreign visits, the revenue department announced putting them on hold. Jaitley promised to come out with “far more simplified” forms. The tax department also held consultations with industry chambers seeking their views for simplification. The ITR forms, which was notified by the CBDT last month for the current assessment year, had specific columns for bank accounts, IFSC Code, names of joint account holders and foreign visits, including the ones sponsored by companies. 

Jaitley, in an interview, said: “I am in favour of the easing. This was twelve or twelve and a half page form, which has existed. Three or four more questions were added...So it became thirteen and a half pages. “I was in Washington when I came to know of this. I immediately called up and said stop it because to me whether it was twelve and a half or thirteen and a half, both seem a little excessive”. 
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