The Union Finance Ministry on Tuesday extended the last date for filing Income Tax returns for the financial year 2018-’19 from March 31 to June 30, in light of the escalating coronavirus crisis in the country. The announcement was made by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman at a video press conference in the national Capital.
“We are close to announcing an economic package, which will be announced sooner or later,” Sitharaman said. In the meantime, the government has come up with a detailed plan to provide relief to all individuals and businesses, she added. The finance minister made announcements on compliance and regulation related to income tax-related matters, compliance and deadlines related to the GST, customs and central excise related, compliance and regulations under the MCA, IBC-related matters and bank-related compliances, fisheries and commerce.
The finance ministry also extended the last date for filing Goods and Services Tax returns for the months of March, April and May to June 30. The deadline for filing Composition returns was also extended till the same date. Sitharaman said that no interest, penalty or late fee will be levied on companies with a turnover of less than Rs 5 crore.
Sitharaman announced that the interest payment for delayed payments have been reduced from 12% to 9%. The last date for linking Aadhar and PAN cards have been extended to June 30 from the original deadline of March 31.
The last date for paying due taxes under the Centre’s “Vivad se Vishwas” scheme has been extended to June 30. Also, no interest will be levied, the finance minister said. The scheme aims to resolve 4,83,000 direct tax disputes that have been pending with various tribunals.
Debit card holders can withdraw cash from any bank’s ATM free of cost for the next three months, said Sitharaman. She added that there shall not be any minimum balance requirement for bank accounts.
Announcing measures to provide relief to import and export businesses, the finance minister said that all Customs clearance portals will now operate round-the-clock till June 30. “We are relaxing holding of board meetings for a period of 60 days till the next two quarters,” Sitharaman said, done in order to perpetuate the practice of social distancing amid the pandemic. “It will not be seen as a violation if independent directors cannot hold a single meeting in the financial year of 2020-’21.”
Applicability of The Companies Auditors’ Report Order 2020, which was supposed to have come into force in 2019-’20, was also shifted to the financial year of 2020-’21, she added.
Sitharaman also assured the public that the finance ministry and the Reserve Bank of India are monitoring the stock markets, which have hit uncharted levels of uncertainty ever since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.
“SEBI [Securities and Exchange Board of India] has come up with some set of guidelines and also stated its position in order to [check] volatility because of short-term transactions...and does not lead to greater instability in stock markets,” she said. “As I said, we are on a regular consultation with the RBI. We are also in consultation with other regulators.”