Foreign travel details sought in the new income tax return (ITR) forms was done so that risk profiling for detection of tax evasions could be done but the form is being modified in view of the opposition to it. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in a written reply to a question in the Rajya Sabha said the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigating Team (SIT) on black money had recommended capturing of foreign travel details for risk profiling.
Such information can help in developing risk profiles for detection of evasion of tax, he said, adding that these details are not required in ITR-1 or ITR-4S which are filed by majority of individual taxpayers. "The government has received representation on the new return forms notified on April 15, 2015, and taking into account concerns raised, the government has decided to modify the return forms," Jaitley said.
The new ITR forms, however, were put on hold shortly after the notification as they were criticised for seeking too many private details.
The Finance Minister also said the government has constantly endeavoured to make the ITR filing procedure simple and hassle-free with the introduction of electronically filed ITR forms in 2006-07. The process of electronic filing has been made simpler over the years, he added. As a result, during 2014-15, 3.41 crore returns were filed electronically which constituted 87 per cent of the all the returns filed in the fiscal.
The government has also provided free ITR preparation software with the facility of pre-filled tax payment and tax deduction columns in the ITR to avoid data entry and mistakes.