Deadlines for filing income tax and GST returns have been extended to June 30, as part of a slew of relaxations of financial year-end compliance announced by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Tuesday. The changes had been prompted by the shutdown of large parts of the country in a bid to control the spread of the COVID-19 viral infection, so that taxpayers were not forced to endanger their health in a bid to meet compliance requirements, she said.
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Bank account holders would not be charged extra for using a debit card to withdraw money from the ATMs of other banks for the next three months, and charges for not meeting minimum balance requirements would also be waived. Bank charges for digital transactions were also being reduced.
Income tax returns for the financial year 2018-19 can now be filed until June 30, with the interest rate on delayed payments reduced to 9% from 12%. The last date for linking Aadhaar with PAN has also been extended from March 31 to June 30. Other taxpayer compliance deadlines, including for investment in savings instruments or for roll-over benefit of capital gains, under the Income Tax Act and other laws have also been extended.
The deadline for filing GST returns for March, April and May, as well as for opting for the composition scheme, has been extended to June 30 for smaller companies — with less than ₹5 crore aggregate annual turnover — without any interest, late fee or penalty being charged. For bigger companies, only interest would be charged at the reduced rate of 9%. The date for filing annual GST returns for 2018-19 has also been extended to the last week of June.
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Deadlines for the Vivaad se Vishwas and Sabka Vishwas schemes for defaulting taxpayers are also being extended.
The Centre has also decided to raise the threshold of default under Section 4 of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016, from ₹1 lakh to ₹1 crore in order to prevent triggering of insolvency proceedings against MSMEs. “We will continue to watch the situation. If it improves, there is no reason to worry. However, if the current situation continues beyond April 30 we may consider suspending Sections 7, 9, 10 of the IBC for a period of 6 months to stop companies at large from being forced into insolvency proceedings in such force majeure cases of default,” said Ms. Sitharaman.
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Statutory corporate requirements are also being relaxed at this time, including filings in the MCA-21 registry, mandatory board meetings, residency requirements for independent directors and deposit reserve requirements.
The Finance Minister added that customs clearance operations would run around the clock, all seven days of the week, till the end of June. For fisheries imports, the validity of sanitary permits were being extended, while other requirements were being relaxed.