Sahaj makes quoting of the 12-digit Aadhaar number mandatory along with Permanent Account Number (PAN).

The income tax return filing season has started. The Income Tax Department has launched e-filing facility for the assessment year 2017-18. In this regard, the tax department has also launched a simplified one-page ITR-1 form called Sahaj. This ITR Form-1 (Sahaj) can be filed by an individual having income up to Rs 50 lakh and who is receiving income from salary, one house property or other income (interest etc). The Income Tax Return Form-1 or Sahaj will replace the earlier seven-page form, making it much easier for filing returns for most taxpayers. The simplified ITR will “reduce the compliance burden to a significant extent on the individual tax payer”, the Income Tax Department said. Simultaneously, the number of ITR Forms has been reduced from the existing nine to seven.

“Not much tinkering has been done with the contents of existing form and some redundant columns have been done away with which will simplify the filing to some extent for a vast majority of people. However, mandatory quoting of Aadhaar may cause some hardship as there will be a sudden rush for such people to apply for Aadhaar who don’t have one yet,” said Sandeep Sehgal, director-tax and regulatory at Ashok Maheshwary & Associates LLP.

Here are 10 key highlights:

1) Sahaj makes quoting of the 12-digit Aadhaar number mandatory along with Permanent Account Number (PAN). While the earlier ITR form too had a column to quote Aadhaar, the government has through an amendment to the Income Tax Act made quoting it mandatory.

2) Cash deposited in excess of Rs 2 lakh during the November 9-December 30 period last year, if any, has to be mentioned in Sahaj.

3) In the new form, the parts relating to tax computation and deductions have been rationalised and simplified for easy compliance.

4) Besides personal details, an income tax filer needs to disclose only his or her income from salary or pension, one house property and other sources like interest. Thereafter, deduction claims are to be stated, followed by computation of taxable income.

5) Instead of 20 columns of deductions in the old form, only five columns need to be filled - four columns specifically for claims in respect of Sections 80C, 80D, 80G and 80TTA, and one for other deductions to be specified.

6) Section 80C is one of the most popular avenues for claiming income tax deductions. Under this section, a deduction of up to Rs 1.5 lakh is allowed. PPF, EPF, life insurance premium etc. qualify for deductions under this section. Section 80D refers to deduction for premium paid for medical insurance.

7) Section 80G pertains to contributions made to certain relief funds and charitable institutions while 80TTA provides a deduction of Rs 10,000 on interest income from savings account.

8) Bank details are to be filled in the next column. Details of advance tax, self-assessment tax payments and tax deducted at source (TDS) come next.

9) The simplified tax form will benefit more than two crore taxpayers who will be eligible to file their returns through this simplified form.

10) The existing income tax return forms ITR-2, ITR-2A and ITR-3 have been rationalised and a single ITR-2 form has been notified in place of these three forms. Taxpayers having more than one house will have to file the ITR-2 form. Details of exempt income (income not to be included in total income) like long-term capital gains from transactions on which securities transaction tax is paid has been made mandatory.