Pressure is mounting on the income tax department to grant extra time to people for filing income tax returns on account of changes brought in the format of tax returns as well as in the tax deducted at source (TDS) certificates issued by employers and the TDS returns to be filed by employers with the tax department.

For filing returns for assessment year 2019-20 relating to income earned in the financial year 2018-19, the last date is 31 July. The tax department usually allows an extension for a few days if the public faces any difficulty in meeting the deadline and a longer extension for assessees in states in case there are exceptional events like a natural calamity. Taxpayers as well as employers have to pay special attention this year on account of the changes in the forms.

A survey of over 10,000 citizens conducted by community social media platform Local Circles released on Friday showed that the deadline of 31 July

for filing income tax returns is causing some discomfort. It showed that 39% of over 7,800 people who chose to answer a question on Form 16 said they have not yet received it from their employer. The survey was conducted across 146 locations in the country. It also showed that 49% of the over 8,000 people who chose to answer a query on how they were placed for filing returns before the last date, either said it was almost impossible or it would be an effort filing before the deadline. About 28% said it was almost impossible. Sachin Taparia, founder, chairman and chief executive officer of Local Circles, said the narrow time gap between receiving Form 16 from employers and the tax return filing deadline had been repeatedly shared by citizens in discussions in the community.

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Experts said the changes to the TDS certificate format notified in April requires employers to give the breakup of all the tax-exempt payments to the employee. Form 24Q that employers have to file with the tax department, too, has been modified to give the breakup of gross salary in terms of value of perquisites and profits in lieu of salary. Also, bifurcation of tax-exempt allowances and the various deductions claimed have to be given. The move is part of an effort to reduce ambiguity in return filing and to make assessment easier by capturing finer details. With the heightened use of technology by the tax department, the finer details captured in the tax returns filed by individuals and in the TDS return 24Q filed by employers will make both the issue of refunds as well as detection of any anomalies in returns easier for tax officials.

Union budget FY20 also proposed that return filing will be compulsory for even those who fall below the basic exemption limit of 2.5 lakh annual income if they get into specified high-value transactions like spending on foreign travel. Those proposals will take effect after Finance Bill, 2019 is passed by Parliament and is signed into law.

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