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Ouch! This tax rule will really hurt all

Freny Patel in Mumbai | July 22, 2004 10:07 IST
Last Updated: July 22, 2004 12:11 IST

Shaliniben Mehta reaches out for a small legder after returning home from a shopping round. She diligently notes down the Rs 4,500 spend on a silk sari that she just could not resist.

Two days later, Shaliniben exchanges her old Godrej frost-free refrigerator for a 365-litre Electrolux Kelvinator for Rs 29,990.

Returning home, she is stumped the moment she begins to enter the expenditure into her ledger. How should she make the entry? Should she put down the cost price of the new fridge or take into account the discount she got for exchanging her old piece and note only Rs 29,990?

Her husband is of no help either, even as he too sits to enter details of his bills for the day.

Having renewed his Rs 25,000 fixed deposit with the State Bank of India together with the interest earned for an additional period of six months, Sunil Mehta is confused whether the financial transaction ought to be included in the ledger at all.

On the one hand, the principal has not been accounted for last year since the government made filing of annual information return on financial transactions from April 2004.

Then again, how should he account for the interest amount as that is actually income and not expenditure. Clueless, the Mehtas simply write down every single financial transaction they enter into, fearing any misses might penalise them at the rate of Rs 100 per day.

The Union Budget has created a nightmare for individual assessees and their families.

Pocket money given to a child may too come under this scheme. So it may not be a bad thing to ask your child to maintain accounts at an early age and would help parents keep track of children's purchases.

Thus the next time you make any purchases -- however small -- remember to note it down in a ledger because at the end of the year, individuals will have to file their annual information return furnished on a floppy, CD-ROM or any computer-readable media.

Effective April 1, 2005, in addition to filing one's income tax returns, the Income Tax Authority will insist on individuals filing an annual information return on financial transactions entered into on or after April 1, 2004, said advocate Prakash K Jotwani.

"My wife never keeps track of household expenses. This is certainly going to be difficult for her, but it might just as well work wonders for controlling expenses," says a public sector banker, who is looking at his retirement next year.

The idea behind the tax man wanting a copy of your petty cash book is with a view to "widen the tax base", and track the evasion of Income-Tax. However, this could create issues and havoc for the public at large, says Jotwani.

The government expects everyone to be computer literate, when many do not have access to computers! The amendment made to section 285B (A) of the Income-Tax Act refers to every individual entering into a financial transaction.

The operative word is "enters", which ought to be removed, points out Jotwani, stating that the proposal will be a sheer harassment for most individuals.

With the need to keep a track on all expenses made aggregating Rs 50,000, Romesh Sobti, executive vice president and country representative, ABN Amro Bank NV (India), sees greater usage of credit cards as the statements will help individuals keep track of their expenditure.

What's more interesting is that the finance bill has yet to identify whether a financial transaction like buying vegetables is not be included.

According to the new section, sub-section (3), specified financial transaction have only been defined as "transaction of purchase, sale or exchange of goods or property or right or interest in a property, or a transaction for rendering any service...or a transaction by way of an investment.

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