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Paying taxes got a little easier
BS Economy Bureau in New Delhi |
January 09, 2004 08:41 IST
Last Updated: January 09, 2004 08:46 IST
The government exempted salaried employees with annual income of up to Rs 150,000 from filing tax returns. These employees can now make do with salary certificates furnished by their employers, provided they had no additional source of income.
The move is expected to benefit nearly 8 million taxpayers in the country.
As part of the measures announced for making life simpler for individual taxpayers, the finance ministry also announced that pensioners, without taxable income, would not be required to file returns from assessment year 2004-05 since they have been exempted from the purview of the one-by-six scheme. The new rules will come into effect from April 1 this year.
Under the existing rules, anyone with an income had to file returns, even if there was no taxable income or the entire tax was deducted at source by the employers. Similarly, those without taxable income but possessing either a car, cell phone, credit card, club membership, house beyond a specified size or going abroad had to file annual tax returns.
The announcements may not be a positive development for chartered accountants and tax advisors, but is expected to save a large number of individual taxpayers from harassment at the hands of tax officials.
Tax authorities would also have to scrutinise a fewer number of returns since those with salaries up to Rs 150,000 constitute nearly 74 per cent of the 11 million salaried taxpayers.
The task force on direct taxes, headed by Vijay Kelkar, had estimated the total number of individual taxpayers -- salaried and non-salaried -- at 27 million for assessment year 2003-04. A large chunk of the salaried assessment filers have their tax deducted at source.
A host of measures liberalising the baggage rules for non-residents changing residence were also announced ahead of the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas starting January 9.
Import of video cassette recorders and discs, washing machines, computers and laptops, cooking ranges and refrigerators, with a capacity of upto 300 litres, during change of residence have been made duty free while on 17 other items import duty has been halved to 15 per cent.
Import entitlement of alcoholic beverages for residents entering India has been doubled to 2 litres if brought as part of baggage. Laptops and cinematographic films, exposed but not developed, which are part of baggage, can be imported duty-free.
On the indirect front the government also announced trade facilitation measures including customs clearance for consignments on self assessment and selective examination besides allowing manufacturing companies to remove finished and semi-finished goods for further processing or testing without payment of excise duty.
The facility to electronic filing of customs documents round-the-clock has also been extended to 23 customs formations from 9 at present.
In case of service tax, the government extended the facility of electronic filing to all 58 items from 10 at present. Also, those providing more than one service would now be permitted to take a single registration, which would be made available through a simpler verification process, an official press release said.