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Without UID, expatriates unable to file tax returns


Many expatriates living in India and non-resident Indians living in any other country may just end up in tax trouble with no fault of theirs. They all are set to miss the July 31 deadline for filing income-tax returns due to snags in the e-filing system. 
Several expats are unable to file tax returns because the e-filing system would not accept it without an Aadhaar card link. 
This despite the government, through a recent notification, clarified that foreign citizens are not required to obtain Aadhaar card for tax filing purpose. “In several cases, the income tax e-filing system is not allowing expatriates to upload their returns without Aadhaar as they have been tagged as Indian citizens in the income tax database,” said Amit Maheshwari, partner at Ashok Maheshwary & Associates LLP that is helping several expats deal with the problem. “This anomaly seems to have its origin at the time of allotment of PAN,” he said. That is not the only problem. 
“In several cases, expats who are not tagged in the jurisdiction of the international tax ward are also not able to upload their tax returns,” Maheshwari said. Another person in the know said, "There seems to be some bug in the IT application as it asks expatriates to submit their foreign bank account when that's not required as per the law.” 
NRIs, too, “are unable to upload their tax returns when they mention their country of residence”, the person told ET. Several representations on the issue have been made to the government in the last couple of weeks. The government is yet to take any action in this regard. An email sent to Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) on Thursday morning did not elicit any response as of press time. Many expats and NRIs want the government to extend the deadline for filing the returns. 
An expert, however, said extending the deadline for just one section of the taxpayer is impossible. “If the government decides to extend the deadline, that has to be done for all taxpayers,” the person said. 
The issue of Aadhaar card has come to revisit expats who had thought it was resolved. In April, many tax experts took a view that the Finance Act, 2017 had made it mandatory to enrol for Aadhaar to file tax returns in India or apply for a PAN or keep the existing PAN active effective July 1 if the person is eligible for Aadhaar. 
Under the Aadhaar Act, anyone who is in India for more than 182 days in aggregate in the past 12 months becomes eligible to obtain Aadhaar. This meant that many expatriates were required to obtain an Aadhaar number, experts said. The possibility of having to give out personal details including biometric ones caused panic among the expat community. 
The Economic Times, New Delhi, 28th July 2017

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