Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announces COVID-19 Relief Measures

As the new coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to spread globally, at a rapid pace, the government is trying to figure out the best way to bolster the slowing economy. Usually, 31 March is considered as the end of the financial year, where citizens have to file Income Tax Return in accordance with the Income Tax rules. But in the wake of the pandemic, the Union Finance Minister, Nirmala Sitharama on 24 March 2020 announced certain reliefs in tax-paying rhythm.

Among other reliefs, the main takeaway is the extension of the deadline for ITR filing and Aadhaar-PAN linkage to June 30, 2020. If there is a delay in payment of ITR, the interest rate has been reduced to 9% from 12% and for the delay in deposit of TDS, the interest rate has been reduced to 9% from 18%. All compliances under Income Tax Act, Wealth Tax Act, Benami Transaction Act, Black Money Act, Vivaad se Vishwaas, have been extended to June 30, 2020, and non-additional payment of 10% has to be paid in case of Vivaad se Vishwaas scheme.

The Minister further announced that while withdrawing cash with a debit card from ATM’s, no withdrawal charges will be levied. No penalty will be charged for not keeping minimum balance requirements in bank accounts, moreover, SBI has waived minimum balance requirement in saving account. Digital charges are also reduced for a trade transaction. Sabka Vishwaas scheme for indirect is also extended to June 30, 2020, with no interest.

Sitharaman also assured no interest, penalty and late fee on GST for companies with a turnover of less than Rs 5 crore. She also stated that there is a mandatory requirement for holding a Board meeting. It has been relaxed for 60 days for the next two quarters. In her statement, she asserted that there is no move to impose financial emergency in the country at this time and the Economic Task Force will soon announce an economic relief package to deal with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the economy.


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