India Regulatory Brief: Online Portal for Filing Tax Returns, RERA in Effect since May 1

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Tax department launches online filing of tax returns

Filing tax returns online will be the norm in India for the Assessment Year (AY) 2017-18 onwards as the Income Tax department launched its e-filing portal in May. This online portal facility can be accessed for filing all categories of Income Tax Returns (ITRs). This year, the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) launched all the seven ITR forms for AY 2017-18 on March 31. Income tax returns need to be filed by July 31 every year.

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The necessary documents for e-filing ITRs are: a copy of the previous year’s tax returns, bank statements, evidence of Tax Deducted at Source (Form-16) and savings certificates, Form-60, and other relevant documents on interest paid.

Finally, the online verification of ITRs will be secured via the Aadhaar number; it is now compulsory to quote the Aadhaar number or enrolment ID for filing ITRs as well as for obtaining a new PAN card.

EPF withdrawal permitted to pay medical bills

The retirement fund body, the Employees’ Provident Fund Organization (EPFO), has overseen an amendment to the Employees’ Provident Fund Scheme (EPF) of 1952, which will now permit premature withdrawal of funds from EPF accounts. This will be allowed to compensate medical expenses, such as surgery, advance treatment of illness, and purchasing equipment for those with physical disability.

However, such a withdrawal will not require medical certificates. EPF subscribers will only need to submit a composite form along with a form of self-declaration after the labor ministry enacted amendments to clause 68-J and 68-N of the EPF, 1952 scheme.

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Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act comes into force May 1

The Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act (RERA) came into force on May 1 this year; central RERA legislation and draft rules were notified a year ago on May 1, 2016.

However, only nine states – Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh, and six union territories – Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Chandigarh, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Daman and Diu, Lakshadweep, and the National Capital Territory of Delhi have notified their respective Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Rules, 2017.

This compromises on the ability of RERA to be effectively implemented. The central Act was passed last year to reform India’s corrupt real estate sector, so that home buyers can benefit from transparency and registration of builders and real estate agents.

Key RERA provisions are: the property being sold will be calculated based on carpet area only – not built up area, property developers will be liable for penalties if RERA norms are violated, and customers can demand refund of the amount paid along with prescribed interest in case of failure to hand over the possession of the property in accordance with the agreement for sale.

Yet, in a temporary respite for developers, the government announced that builders can market their ongoing projects till July 31, 2017, even if they are not registered with the Real Estate Regulatory Authority.

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