NRIs, expats may miss July 31 deadline for filing ITR over bugs in e-filing

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Non-resident Indians (NRIs) and expatriates may end up missing the July 31 deadline for filing their income tax (I-T) returns due to snags in the e-filing system, which has rejected filings from several expats without an Aadhaar card link, reported the Economic Times on Friday.  

The hurdle comes despite a recent government notification that clarified that Aadhaar would not be mandatory for foreign citizens while filing returns. 

Many hurdles to cross

Speaking to the financial daily, Amit Maheshwari, a partner at Ashok Maheshwary & Associates LLP, explained that the I-T e-filing system was not allowing expatriates who were "tagged as Indian citizens in the income tax database" to upload their returns without Aadhaar. According to Maheshwari, the "anomaly" appears to have originated from the time when the affected expats were allotted their Permanent Account Number (PAN) itself.

An April 5 notification issued by the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) had said: "... Mandatory quoting of Aadhaar or Enrolment ID (for filing I-T return) shall apply only to a person who is eligible to obtain Aadhaar number. As per the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016, only a resident individual is entitled to obtain Aadhaar...." 

The term resident, under the said Act, means an individual who has resided in India for a period or periods amounting in all to one hundred and eighty-two days or more in the twelve months immediately preceding the date of application for enrolment. 

Accordingly, the April 5 notification had said: "... The requirement to quote Aadhaar as per section 139AA of the Income-tax Act shall not apply to an individual who is not a resident as per the Aadhaar Act, 2016." 

As reported earlier, during Budget 2017, the government had announced that Aadhaar would be made mandatory for the filing of I-T returns from FY18. According to the report, the government said that all bank accounts would have to be seeded with Aadhaar by March 31, 2017. 

Another clarification issued by the government that expats would not have to submit details of their foreign bank accounts, unless they were claiming a refund and do not have an Indian bank account, appears to have been undone, at least for some expats, as the e-filing system is asking them to furnish those details, said the financial daily.   

The unnamed source also told the financial daily that NRIs were finding that they could not upload their returns when they mentioned their country of residence. 

Further, according to the report, Maheshwari revealed that expats who were "not tagged in the jurisdiction of the international tax ward" could not upload their returns.  

According to the report, despite several representations made to the government, the bugs seem to remain unaddressed. 

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