The finance ministry today introduced “Sahaj” and “Sugam” forms to make the process of filing income tax returns simpler, user-friendly and to reduce compliance burden on salaried persons and small businessmen.
“Sahaj and Sugam are major steps towards simplification of income tax return filing,” said Sudhir Chandra, chairman of the Central Board of Direct Taxes. He also said efforts were being made to facilitate electronic filing through Sahaj and Sugam I-T return forms.
While Sahaj is for salaried people, Sugam return form is applicable for small businessmen and professionals covered under presumptive taxation. Under India’s presumptive taxation, person carrying on business will not be required to get his accounts audited if the annual total sales, turnover or gross receipts is less than Rs 60 lakh. The limit was increased by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee in 2010-11 budget from Rs 40 lakh.
Chandra also said senior citizens (60 years and above) filing returns for incomes from pension, dividend, interest incomes and property will not be subjected to scrutiny. “Such cases (of senior citizens) will not be picked up for scrutiny and the Government will trust senior citizens,” he said.
In the Union budget for 2011-12, the age for senior citizens for income tax purposes has been reduced to 60 years from 65 years. Senior citizens will get tax exemption for income up to Rs 2.5 lakh from Rs 2.4 lakh earlier.
Chandra said the government would also notify a provision in early June exempting people with a salary of up to Rs 5 lakh from filing returns. However, they will have to file the return if they seek refund. Senior citizens filing returns for income from pension, dividends, interests and property will not be subjected to scrutiny.
Chandra also said efforts were being made to facilitate electronic filing of the two kinds of forms.
The new forms have been attractively designed and have bar codes, showing the tax and refund history of a taxpayer. They can be easily uploaded. The information sought is similar to the earlier Saral form, said an I-T practitioner.
Officials said the Sugam form will reduce the compliance burden of small businessmen who fall within the scope of presumptive taxation. Presumptive taxation involves the use of indirect means to ascertain tax liability.
The Income Tax Department has asked taxpayers to furnish details earned from agriculture in its newly modified I-T return form — Sahaj — for assessment year 2011-12. Known as Saral-II and originally meant for the service-class, the Sahaj form has a column devoted to income from agriculture. “This information on agricultural income is for record only and not to be taxed,” a senior I-T official said.