Union Minister of Finance Nirmala Sitharaman on Thursday announced that the due dates for filing income tax returns have been extended from July 31 and October 31 to November 30, in view of the halt in economic activity due to the coronavirus outbreak. The Centre has also extended the tax audit deadline from September 30 to October 31.

Sitharaman made the announcement while addressing a press conference to flesh out the contours of the Rs 20 lakh crore special economic package Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared on Tuesday. He said this package, advanced for the Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan, or self-reliant India scheme, will make India self-sufficient.

The Centre extended the date of assessments getting barred from September 30 to December 31. Those getting barred on March 31, 2021, will be extended to September 30, 2021, she said.

The minister also extended the period of the “Vivad Se Vishwas” scheme for paying tax without additional amount to December 31. The scheme aims to resolve 4,83,000 direct tax disputes that have been pending with various tribunals. Under the scheme, taxpayers with disputed tax demands in several forums may pay due taxes by March 31 and get complete waiver of interests and fines.

Sitharaman announced a 25% reduction in tax deducted at source, or TDS, for non-salaried specified payments, and an equal reduction in tax collected at source, or TCS, for the specified receipts. This will put more money into the hands of the taxpayers.

The measure will come into force on Thursday, and will be in force till March 31, 2021. It will create liquidity of up to Rs 50,000 crore in the economy, Sitharaman said.

The government also decided to release all pending funds to charitable trusts and non-corporate businesses and professions, including proprietorship, limited liability partnerships and cooperatives.

The coronavirus pandemic has affected over 74,000 people in India and killed more than 2,400. In order to combat the spread of the virus, the government imposed a nationwide lockdown on March 25. The lockdown has been extended thrice, with Modi on Tuesday announcing the third extension beginning May 18.

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