Haj Pilgrimage: Logjam over income tax return continues

Expect positive response from Finance Ministry: Haj Committee

Hyderabad: Haj Committee of India had petitioned Central Government’s Ministry of Finance to exempt the Haj Pilgrims from the mandatory filing of the income tax return.

Chief Executive Officer of Haj Committee of India Dr Maqsood Ahmed Khan said: “December 31 is the last date for filing income tax and in the absence of any response from the Finance Ministry there is a palpable anguish among the pilgrims.”

Dr. Khan hoped “the Haj pilgrims shall be exempted from the condition of mandatory 

According to the new Finance bill (amended), all those who undertake journey outside the country and incur expenditure above Rs.2 lakhs must compulsorily file an income tax return.  Since there is no mention of pilgrimage to the religious places, the Haj Committee of India had sought an explanation from the Ministry of Finance and Income Tax Department.  “If any Haj Pilgrim submits income tax return on his own, it will be considered as his prerogative and the Haj Committee shall not guide him in this regard”, Dr Khan said.

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The CEO of Haj Committee said the Income Tax department must not force the Haj pilgrims to submit a tax return.  “Haj Committee of India had brought the issue to the notice of Minister of Minority Affairs Abbas Naqvi who wrote to the Finance Ministry to look into the matter. We are sure the Haj pilgrims, as before, shall be exempted from submitting income tax return”, Dr. Khan said. According to Dr Khan majority of the Haj pilgrims come from poor and lower middle-class families and they are not aware of the income tax procedure.  This in mind, it is necessary to exempt these pilgrims from the condition of filing an income tax return.

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