All pending income tax refunds up to Rs 5 lakh will be immediately released to provide relief to taxpayers and businesses amid the coronavirus pandemic, the Ministry of Finance announced on Wednesday.

“This would benefit around 14 lakh taxpayers,” an official statement said. “It has also been decided to issue all pending GST and Custom refunds which would provide benefit to around 1 lakh business entities, including MSME. Thus, the total refund granted will be approximately Rs 18,000 crore.”

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Last month, the government had 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 Centre had also announced a Rs 1.7 lakh crore stimulus package to help deal with the economic impact of the pandemic. Apart from benefits for the poor and farmers, the government had announced that it will pay the Employee Provident Fund contribution for both the employer and employee – total 24% of the basic salary – for the next three months for establishments that have upto 100 employees and 90% of them earn less than Rs 15,000.

The government had also said it will amend the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation regulation to allow non-refundable advance of 75% of the amount standing to the credit or three months’ wages, whichever is lower.