Dr Sanjiv Agarwal

The economic growth is now expected to be marginally over 7 percent, though capital formation and investments have slowed down, global economic and financial conditions are under pressure, inflation has declined but still a cause of worry and fiscal deficit continues to be of concern. In this backdrop, it is no body’s guess as to what the forthcoming budget is going to be.

While many of us may not be directly interested in these macro economic affairs and what budget may have in store, yet there are some pre-budget tax relaxations announced in last few days that would certainly many taxpayers happy.

Senior citizens and small tax payers have reasons to joy. Income tax returns filed by senior citizens (above 60 years) and small tax payers with gross total income of less than Rs. 10 lakh will not be subjected to routine scrutiny but shall be scrutinized only where the tax department is in possession of credible information. This would apply to tax returns being filed in ITR – I and ITR-2 forms by senior citizens and small taxpayers for the financial year 2011-12. Senior citizens for this purpose would be individual taxpayers who are 60 years of age or more. Small taxpayers would be individual and HUF taxpayers whose total income, before availing deductions does not exceed Rs. 10 lakh.

It yet another major relief, individuals upto annual income of Rs. 5 lakh will no longer be required to file personal income tax returns for the current financial year ,i.e,  2011-12. However such a relief comes with few qualification and conditions on eligibility etc.

This exemption from filing tax returns is only for individuals whose total income does not exceed Rs. 5 lakh and total income comprises only of salaries and income from other sources in form of interest not exceeding Rs. 10,000 earned on a savings bank account. Apart from this limit, assessee or the taxpayer will have to inform his PAN number to employer, disclose savings bank interest income to the employer who should issue a TDS certificate mentioning income, tax and PAN; tax payer should not have paid or have payable any advance tax or self assessment tax, or no refund should be due and that the taxpayer  should have received salary only from one employer during the year.

Further, such an exemption applies only to voluntary tax return filing and will not operate when return is required to be filed in response to any notice form the tax office.

In other words, exemption from filing tax returns for financial year 2011-12 is not available to non individual assessees (companies, firms, HUF etc.), assessees with income under other heads of income other than salary or interest on saving bank accounts, incomes exceeding Rs. 5 lakh, refund cases, cases where advance tax or self assessment tax is paid etc.

However, non-filing of tax returns may pose problems for such persons as seeking loan from banks for personal finance needs, housing loan, education loan etc., as the lender institutions generally ask for tax returns.

Further, there are many assessees who do not disclose their all savings but only declare tax savings. In all such cases, exemption will not be available.

The intention of exemption appears to be to reduce compliance burden on employed and small taxpayers. It may relieve a large number of assessees but still, a lot many falling in this category may still opt for filing tax returns.

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