With the Central government expected to extend the COVID-19 lockdown for another two weeks, people are likely to face more financial difficulties. To ease the situation, the Centre has been taking several measures ranging from tax returns and extension of deadlines to providing financial assistance under different schemes. Here are a few announcements from the Centre to deal with the economic crisis amid the pandemic.
For the benefit of farmers, the government has disbursed ₹13,855 crore under the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN) scheme, since the announcement of lockdown on March 24. The first instalment of ₹2,000 has reached 6.93 crore farmers, said the Union Finance Ministry. There are around 8.69 crore beneficiaries under the PM-KISAN scheme.
More than 30 cr beneficiaries have been directly given support through Direct Benefit Transfer amounting to Rs 28,256 cr under #PradhanMantriGribKalyanPackage
#IndiaFightsCorona@nsitharamanoffc @Anurag_Office @PIB_India @DDNewslive @airnewsalerts pic.twitter.com/zLIusgdbhS
— Ministry of Finance 🇮🇳 #StayHome #StaySafe (@FinMinIndia) April 11, 2020
The Centre had also announced that it would provide widows, senior citizens and disabled persons with three months’ pension in advance. The pension — ranging from ₹200 to ₹500 — will be given to people falling under these categories, it said. Also, the government will give a one-time ex gratia amount of ₹1,000 to them in two instalments. The first instalment has reached around 2.82 crore beneficiaries.
The government has also transferred ₹7,825 crore under the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana to bank accounts of 15.65 crore women, out of over 20 crore beneficiaries of the scheme. Under Ujjawala scheme, around 8.3 crore women will get free LPG refills for the next three months. All these come under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan relief package that was announced by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in view of COVID-19.
Income tax refunds
Around 14 lakh taxpayers will get their pending income tax refunds of up to ₹5 lakh, the Income Tax Department recently announced in a tweet. It also said around one lakh business entities would be benefitted as all pending GST and customs refunds would be issued. A total of ₹18,000 crore will be refunded, it added.
In context of COVID-19 situation & to grant immediate relief to taxpayers, GOI has decided to issue all pending income-tax refunds upto Rs.5 lakh & GST/Custom refunds with immediate effect.@nsitharaman @nsitharamanoffc @Anurag_Office @FinMinIndia @PIB_India @cbic_india #StaySafe pic.twitter.com/sF0cU8WyA1
— Income Tax India (@IncomeTaxIndia) April 8, 2020
Extension of deadlines
The Centre has extended the deadlines for filing GST and income tax returns to June 30. Sitharaman had told reporters the companies that have a turnover of less than ₹5 crore need not to pay any interest, penalty or late fee. Firms that have over ₹5 crore turnover must only pay a reduced interest of 9 per cent and will not have to pay penalty or late fee.
On the other hand, the government had also extended the deadline for filing belated income tax returns from March 31 to June 30. However, it will attract a penalty of ₹10,000. The deadline for linking PAN and Aadhaar has also been extended to June 30 from March 31.
Employees’ Provident Fund
The government has also allowed account holders to withdraw up to three months salary from the Employees’ Provident Fund. Generally, those withdrawing from EPF accounts before they complete five years of continuous service will have to pay tax. But to ease the financial troubles during the lockdown, the government has exempted such withdrawals from tax.