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The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has proposed the introduction of common Income Tax Return (ITR) Form which will replace the current different types of ITR forms available with taxpayers for filling of their Income Tax Returns with the Income Tax Department.  The proposed new common ITR form will merge all the existing forms from ITR 1 to ITR 6 except the ITR -7 which is generally applicable to the non-government institutions, charitable Institutions, business trusts, investment funds, etc. The current ITR-1 and ITR 4 will continue even after the introduction of proposed common ITR Form which will provide the taxpayers with an option to either file the tax returns in the existing ITR- 1 or ITR – 4, or the proposed common ITR as per their convenience.

At present for filling the tax returns, taxpayers have to select the applicable ITR form from the ITR 1 to ITR 7 depending upon the nature/type of person (individual, HUF, firm) in accordance with their nature of income (such as salary, business income, capital gains, rental income). The current available ITR forms are designed in a way wherein the taxpayer for filling the tax return is mandatorily requisite to go through all the schedules in the ITR form, irrespective of the fact whether that particular schedule/information sought is applicable or not, which increases the time taken as well complex the process to file the ITRs.

The scheme of the proposed common ITR is as follows:

1. Basic information (comprising parts A to E), Schedule for computation of total income (Schedule TI), Schedule for computation of tax (schedule TTI), Details of bank accounts, and a schedule for the tax payments (schedule TXP) is applicable for all taxpayers.

2. The ITR is customized for taxpayers with applicable schedules based on certain questions answered by the taxpayers (wizard questions).

3. The questions have been designed in such a manner and order that if the answer to any question is ‘no’, the other questions linked to this question will not be shown to the taxpayer.

4. Instructions have been added to assist the filing of the return containing the directions regarding the applicable schedules.

5. The proposed ITR has been designed in such a manner that each row contains one distinct value only. This will simplify the return filing process.

6. The utility for the ITR will be rolled out in such a manner that only applicable fields of the schedule will be visible and wherever necessary, the set of fields will appear more than once.

In the proposed common ITR form, the taxpayer will be required to answer the questions which apply to it and fill the schedules linked to those questions where the answers has been given as ‘yes’. This will increase ease of compliance. 

While the CBDT aims at simplification of the tax returns filling process and to reform the overall tax return filling system in India in accordance with the international best practices, it has sought the inputs from the stakeholders on the proposed draft common ITR Form by 15th December.

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