India went into a 21-day lockdown starting from midnight, March 24, 2020, as an endeavor to halt the spread of coronavirus. To bolster the country’s economy that is staggering under the deadly outbreak, the government has decided to undertake specific relief measures. In a media briefing, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced the steps that the government has decided to take for the same. Let’s have a look:
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- Sitharaman announced that the government has deferred the last date for filing the income tax return for the previous financial year to June 30, 2020.
- If there is any delay in payment, the interest levied will be lower, 9 percent instead of 12 percent.
- The scheme for resolving tax disputes, Vivad se Vishwas, has also been extended to June 30. The program offers relief on the 10 percent interest on the principal amount till March 31, and that deadline has been deferred till June 30.
- The last date for the obligatory seeding of Aadhaar with PAN has been pushed from March 31 to June 30.
- Notices under the Income Tax Act will also be issued at a later date.
- Sitharaman declared that the deadline for filing GST returns for March-April-May has also been moved to June 30.
- As a relief to companies with an annual turnover lower than Rs 5 crore, the late filing of GST returns would not attract any penalty or interest.
- For companies having more than Rs 5 crore annual turnover, no late fine will be imposed if the GST filing deadline is crossed by up to 15 days. After that, a diminished rate of 9 percent will be charged as interest.
- The rule about holding mandatory general board meetings every two quarters has been relaxed. If a board meeting is not held for 2019-20, it will not be considered an infringement.
- Under ordinary circumstances, you need to maintain a minimum bank balance in your savings account, or else you attract a fine. Under the altered conditions of the coronavirus catastrophe, the government has decided to relinquish the charges for not maintaining such balance.
- Sitharaman said that for the coming three months, debit-card holders would be able to withdraw cash from all ATMs, even those not belonging to their home banks, without having to pay any extra fees.
- To prevent companies from being driven to insolvency, the government increased the threshold limit for triggering bankruptcy under Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code from Rs 1 lakh to Rs 1 crore.
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Sitharaman also allayed further concerns of a fiscal slowdown by declaring that the government will soon bring an economic package to safeguard the nation against the Covid-19 pandemic. In the middle of the coronavirus scare and the people’s growing unease, these announcements brought a much-needed reprieve.