The government is working on pre-filled Income-Tax returns using TDS data available with it. When did this idea originate? What are its advantages, and what are some of the concerns articulated by critics?
In late 2002, when the then Finance Minister, Jaswant Singh, signaled the beginning of a radically new approach to taxation, marked by simplification and rationalization, the Finance Ministry undertook a review of the format of tax returns. Tax return forms in those days used to be lengthy — running into perhaps 10 pages. The story goes that when senior Revenue Department officials showed a sample of the proposed new ‘Saral’ form for individual taxpayers to Singh, the Minister was upset enough to demand to know what exactly was saral (simple) about the new form, forcing the officials to scramble to make the form simpler.