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Finance Minister's Top 10 Announcements On Relief Steps Over Coronavirus

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Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Tuesday announced a slew of relief measures for taxpayers and businesses as the country entered a second day of lockdown to curb the coronavirus pandemic. Announcing a relaxation in the due dates for filing of certain returns of income tax as well as Goods and Services Tax (GST), the Finance Minister said the government is already working on a fiscal package to shielf the economy against the rapidly-spreading coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, and will soon make an announcement. Briefing the media through video conferencing, the Finance Minister said . The announcements come days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a special task-force headed by the Finance Minister to help businesses already facing strain due to the pandemic. The country has already reported 482 cases of the coronavirus, and health experts have warned that a big jump could be imminent.

Here are 10 big announcements for taxpayers and businesses:

1. The Finance Minister announced a ten-fold increase in the threshold for default under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) to Rs 1 crore. Currently, the threshold of triggering insolvency cases stands at Rs 1 lakh.

2. In a major relief for the public, as only essential services remained open in many parts of the country to curb the spread of coronavirus, the Finance Minister announced free-of-charge withdrawals from ATMs of any bank for next three months.

3. For taxpayers, the government extended the due date for filing tax returns towards income earned in financial year 2018-19 (assessment year 2019-20) to June 30.

4. The Finance Minister also announced a relaxation in the interest rate applicable on delayed income tax returns (ITRs) to 9 per cent from the existing 12 per cent.

5. Extending tax dispute resolution scheme "Vivad Se Vishwas" by three months, also to June 30, Ms Sitharaman said those availing the scheme will not be required to the 10 per cent interest on principal as mandated under existing rules.

6. She also announced an extension in the due date for mandatory linking of Aadhaar with PAN to June 30. Currently, the compulsory seeding of the Aadhaar number into the PAN has to be carried out by March 31.

7. The government also announced a range of relief measures for companies, including an extension in the deadline for filing returns towards the months of March, April and May to June 30.

8. Also, companies with a turnover of less than Rs 5 crore will not have to pay interest, penalty or late fee for filing delayed returns, the Finance Minister said.

9.  Announcing a relaxation for companies to hold board meetings for next two quarters, Ms Sitharaman said: "If no board meeting is held for 2019-20, it will not be considered a violation." 

10. Today's moves are under the special task-force constituted by government recently to tackle the coronavirus outbreak, the Finance Minister said.

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