Income Tax Returns Can Now Be Filed Online Without Linking Aadhaar

Two weeks after the Delhi high court order, the Central Board of Direct Taxes now provides an "opt-out" option on its website for those who do not want to provide Aadhaar details.

New Delhi: The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has allowed online filing of income tax return without quoting Aadhaar number for those who have not enrolled for the digital identification programme.

This comes two weeks after the Delhi high court directed the tax department to provide an “opt out” option on its website so that those without Aadhaar card can file their income tax return.

Till August 2, the income tax department’s website required the Aadhaar details for filing of income tax return.

But on Wednesday (August 8),  Jayshree Satpute, one of the petitioners in the Delhi high court case, filed her income tax return without furnishing Aadhaar details. “We hoped that the CBDT would comply sooner,” Satpute told Scroll.in.

“This felt like a process that made us anxious. Several others in the same situation kept contacting us to ask if the CBDT had complied or not. The CBDT should have made the changes to the website without us having to file an application in the court,” she added.

Tripti Poddar, the lawyer for the petitioners in the case, said they were happy that the CBDT has finally provided an “opt-out” option. “However, through the process of this case, we realised that there are scores of Indians in the same position as my clients, who also felt anxious about waiting till the last minute to file their returns. It shouldn’t have taken them so long to comply with the court’s order,” Poddar said.

On July 20, activist Shreya Sen and human rights lawyer Satpute moved the court for being allowed to file their income tax returns without having to provide their Aadhaar details. The deadline for filing income tax returns was initially set for July 31 and but has now been extended till August 31.

The tax department had indeed complied with the court’s order, claimed the government lawyer earlier. However, when assesses tried to file their income tax returns without furnishing Aadhaar details, the option was denied to them by the website, leaving them confounded.

The  fate of the Aadhaar programme is hanging in the balance as its Constitutional validity has been legally challenged in the Supreme Court. The apex court has completed hearing on a bunch of petitions and has reserved its order.

In March, a Constitution bench had directed the government not to link provision of services to Aadhaar card, except in case of subsidies and welfare schemes, pending its final order.

On June 30, the CBDT extended the deadline for linking Aadhaar and PAN till March 31, 2019.s