NEW DELHI

Tax returns on computers with new Saral forms

NEW DELHI MAY 9. Using Information Technology (IT) to its best advantage, the Income Tax Department will now assess and process income tax returns on computers, shedding the cumbersome manual system. It has also introduced a series of new Saral forms for various categories from this financial year. All previous return forms stand invalidated and will not be accepted.

Insiders in the Department say a new series of computer code digital taxpayer-friendly forms have been introduced for the 14 lakh-odd assessees in Delhi and the rest of the country. The taxpayer -- individual, salaried or business category -- would not be required any more to seek assistance of counsellors to fill the forms "as every structure has been codified to make assessment an easy affair.'' This would also lead to "fast assessment of returns in future'' and "also create a data bank for the tax authorities.''

Sources say that from 2002-2003, taxpayers would be required to file their returns in the new forms -- ITS-3 for the salaried class, ITS-2 for the business category, and ITS-2C for those who fall under the one-of-six category. The previous one-page Saral forms have been given the good-bye and would no longer be accepted. Officials say this has been done to remove anomalies which had cropped up in previous forms.

In fact, from this year onwards, all returns would be assessed and processed on computers and manual processing has been done away with. According to the Commissioner of Income Tax (Private Salary), Saroj Bala, this step has been taken to simplify the entire system and make it computer-friendly. The new forms can be filled up without any assistance by a professional counsel, she adds. The new restructured Saral form for the salaried class has computer codes of various heads which are clearly reflected in the form. More space and annexures have been provided to various income heads to remove any confusion in the minds of the taxpayer.

Under the new computer-savvy regime, the assessing officer or his staff would not be required to sift through the huge pile of tax returns. All that he would have to do is press a computor button and recall the name of the assessee through his or her Permanent Account Number (PAN).

Then he would feed the computer codes which will outline the total income of the individual or the business undertaking. He would proceed to feed the exemptions , if any, under various sections, total income, surcharge, advance tax, interest, self assessment tax and the refund due to the assessee.

The outstanding feature of the new form is the different annexures for income from capital gains, salaries, income from house property, agricultural income and various other heads.

The last page of the form seeks information from the assessee about purchase of car or house made uring the past year. This clause has been introduced to ensure that authentic information is filed by the taxpayer.

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