Various Relief Measures at a Glance Announced by Government in view of Covid-19 outbreak

Direct Taxes & Benami:

(i) Extension of last date of filing of original as well as revised income-tax returns for the FY 2018-19 (AY 2019-20) to 30th June, 2020.

(ii) Extension of Aadhaar-PAN linking date to 30th June, 2020.

(iii) The date for making various investment/payment for claiming deduction under Chapter-VIA-B of IT Act which includes Section 80C (LIC, PPF, NSC etc.), 80D (Mediclaim), 80G (Donations), etc. has been extended to 30th June, 2020. Hence the investment/payment can be made up to 30.06.2020 for claiming the deduction under these sections for FY 2019-20.

(iv) The date for making investment/construction/purchase for claiming roll over benefit/deduction in respect of capital gains under sections 54 to 54GB of the IT Act has also been extended to 30th June 2020. Therefore, the investment/ construction/ purchase made up to 30.06.2020 shall be eligible for claiming deduction from capital gains arising during FY 2019-20.

(v) The date for commencement of operation for the SEZ units for claiming deduction under deduction 10AA of the IT Act has also extended to 30.06.2020 for the units which received necessary approval by 31.03.2020.

(vi) The date for passing of order or issuance of notice by the authorities under various direct taxes& Benami Law has also been extended to 30.06.2020.

(vii) It has provided that reduced rate of interest of 9% shall be charged for non-payment of Income-tax (e.g. advance tax, TDS, TCS) Equalization Levy, Securities Transaction Tax (STT), Commodities Transaction Tax (CTT) which are due for payment from 20.03.2020 to 29.06.2020 if they are paid by 30.06.2020. Further, no penalty/ prosecution shall be initiated for these non-payments.

(viii) Under Vivad se Vishwas Scheme, the date has also been extended up to 30.06.2020. Hence, declaration and payment under the Scheme can be made up to 30.06.2020 without additional payment.

(ix) Due dates for issue of notice, intimation, notification, approval order, sanction order, filing of appeal, furnishing of return, statements, applications, reports, any other documents and time limit for completion of proceedings by the authority and any compliance by the taxpayer including investment in saving instruments or investments for roll over benefit of capital gains under Income Tax Act, Wealth Tax Act, Prohibition of Benami Property Transaction Act, Black Money Act, STT law, CTT Law, Equalization Levy law, Vivad Se Vishwas law where the time limit is expiring between 20th March 2020 to 29th June 2020 shall be extended to 30th June 2020.

(x) For delayed payments of advanced tax, self-assessment tax, regular tax, TDS, TCS, equalization levy, STT, CTT made between 20th March 2020 and 30th June 2020, reduced interest rate at 9% instead of 12 %/18 % per annum ( i.e. 0.75% per month instead of 1/1.5 percent per month) will be charged for this period. No late fee/penalty shall be charged for delay relating to this period.

(xi) The donation made to the PM CARES Fund shall be eligible for 100% deduction under section 80G of the IT Act. Further, the limit on deduction of 10% of gross income shall also not be applicable for donation made to PM CARES Fund. As the date for claiming deduction u/s 80G under IT Act has been extended up to 30.06.2020, the donation made up to 30.06.2020 shall also be eligible for deduction from income of FY 2019-20. Hence, any person including corporate paying concessional tax on income of FY 2020-21 under new regime can make donation to PM CARES Fund up to 30.06.2020 and can claim deduction u/s 80G against income of FY 2019-20 and shall also not lose his eligibility to pay tax in concessional taxation regime for income of FY 2020-21.

Goods and Services Tax

(i) Those having aggregate annual turnover less than ₹ 5 Crore Last date can file GSTR-3B return due in March, April and May 2020 (i.e. for the months of Feb, March and April 2020) by the last week of June, 2020. No interest, late fee, and penalty to be charged.

(ii) Others (having aggregate turnover more than 5 Cr.) can file returns due in March, April and May 2020 (i.e. for the months of Feb, March and April 2020) by last week of June 2020 but the same would attract reduced rate of interest @9 % per annum from 15 days after due date (current interest rate is 18 % per annum). No late fee and penalty to be charged, if complied before till 30th June 2020.

Ex.- Due date of GSTR3B for the month Feb 20- 20March 2020. Interest @ 9% will be charged post 4 April 2020 if return is not filled. However no late fees or penalty will be levied till 30 June 2020.

(iii) Date for opting for composition scheme is extended till the last week of June, 2020. Further, the last date for making payments for the quarter ending 31st March, 2020 and filing of return for 2019-20 by the composition dealers will be extended till the last week of June, 2020.

(iv) Date for filing GST annual returns of FY 18-19, which is due on 31st March, 2020 is extended till the last week of June 2020.

(v) Due date for issue of notice, notification, approval order, sanction order, filing of appeal, furnishing of return, statements, applications, reports, any other documents, time limit for any compliance under the GST laws where the time limit is expiring between 20th March 2020 to 29th June 2020 shall be extended to 30th June 2020.

(vi) Payment date under Sabka Vishwas Scheme shall be extended to 30th June, 2020. No interest for this period shall be charged if paid by 30th June, 2020.

(vii) An enabling section has got inserted in the CGST Act, 2017 (Sec 168A) empowering the Government to extend due dates for various compliances inter-alia including statement of outward supplies, filing refund claims, filing appeals, etc. specified, prescribed or notified under the Act, on recommendations of the GST Council.

Central Excise and Customs

(i) Last date of furnishing of the Central Excise returns due in March, April and May 2020 has been extended to 30th June,2020.

(ii) Wherever the last date for filing of appeal, refund applications etc., under the Central Excise Act, 1944 and rules made thereunder is from 20th March 2020 to 29th June 2020, the same has been extended to 30th June 2020.

(iii) Wherever the last date for filing of appeal, refund applications etc., under the Customs Act, 1962 and rules made thereunder is from 20th March 2020 to 29th June 2020, the same has been extended to 30th June 2020.

(iv) Wherever the last date for filing of appeal etc., relating to Service Tax is from 20th March 2020 to 29th June 2020, the same has been extended to 30th June 2020

(v) 24X7 Custom clearance till end of 30th June, 2020

Financial Services

(i) Relaxations for 3 months

– Debit cardholders to withdraw cash for free from any other banks’ ATM for 3 months

– Waiver of minimum balance fee

– Reduced bank charges for digital trade transactions for all trade finance consumers

(ii) Rescheduling of Payments – Term Loans and Working Capital Facilities

In respect of all term loans (including agricultural term loans, retail and crop loans), all commercial banks (including regional rural banks, small finance banks and local area banks), co-operative banks, all-India Financial Institutions, and NBFCs (including housing finance companies) (“lending institutions”) are permitted to grant a moratorium of three months on payment of all instalments1 falling due between March 1, 2020 and May 31, 2020. The repayment schedule for such loans as also the residual tenor, will be shifted across the board by three months after the moratorium period. Interest shall continue to accrue on the outstanding portion of the term loans during the moratorium period.

In respect of working capital facilities sanctioned in the form of cash credit/overdraft (“CC/OD”), lending institutions are permitted to defer the recovery of interest applied in respect of all such facilities during the period from March 1, 2020 upto May 31, 2020 (“deferment”). The accumulated accrued interest shall be recovered immediately after the completion of this period.

(iiI) Easing of Working Capital Financing

In respect of working capital facilities sanctioned in the form of CC/OD to borrowers facing stress on account of the economic fallout of the pandemic, lending institutions may recalculate the ‘drawing power’ by reducing the margins and/or by reassessing the working capital cycle. This relief shall be available in respect of all such changes effected up to May 31, 2020 and shall be contingent on the lending institutions satisfying themselves that the same is necessitated on account of the economic fallout from COVID-19. Further, accounts provided relief under these instructions shall be subject to subsequent supervisory review with regard to their justifiability on account of the economic fallout from COVID-19.

(iv)Classification as Special Mention Account (SMA) and Non-Performing Asset (NPA)

Since the moratorium/deferment/recalculation of the ‘drawing power’ is being provided specifically to enable the borrowers to tide over economic fallout from COVID-19, the same will not be treated as concession or change in terms and conditions of loan agreements due to financial difficulty of the borrower under paragraph 2 of the Annex to the Reserve Bank of India (Prudential Framework for Resolution of Stressed Assets) Directions, 2019 dated June 7, 2019 (“Prudential Framework”). Consequently, such a measure, by itself, shall not result in asset classification downgrade.

The asset classification of term loans which are granted relief as per paragraph 2 shall be determined on the basis of revised due dates and the revised repayment schedule. Similarly, working capital facilities where relief is provided as per paragraph 3 above, the SMA and the out of order status shall be evaluated considering the application of accumulated interest immediately after the completion of the deferment period as well as the revised terms, as permitted in terms of paragraph 4 above.

The rescheduling of payments, including interest, will not qualify as a default for the purposes of supervisory reporting and reporting to Credit Information Companies (CICs) by the lending institutions. CICs shall ensure that the actions taken by lending institutions pursuant to the above announcements do not adversely impact the credit history of the beneficiaries.

(v) Extension of realisation period of export proceeds

Presently value of the goods or software exports made by the exporters is required to be realized fully and repatriated to the country within a period of 9 months from the date of exports. In view of the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the time period for realization and repatriation of export proceeds for exports made up to or on July 31, 2020, has been extended to 15 months from the date of export. The measure will enable the exporters to realise their receipts, especially from COVID-19 affected countries within the extended period and also provide greater flexibility to the exporters to negotiate future export contracts with buyers abroad. 

Corporate Affairs

(i) No additional fees shall be charged for late filing during a moratorium period from 01st April to 30th September 2020, in respect of any document, return, statement etc., required to be filed in the MCA-21 Registry, irrespective of its due date, which will not only reduce the compliance burden, including financial burden of companies/ LLPs at large, but also enable long-standing non-compliant companies/ LLPs to make a ‘fresh start’;

(ii) The mandatory requirement of holding meetings of the Board of the companies within prescribed interval provided in the Companies Act (120 days), 2013, shall be extended by a period of 60 days till next two quarters i.e., till 30th September;

(iii) Applicability of Companies (Auditor’s Report) Order, 2020 shall be made applicable from the financial year 2020-2021 instead of from 2019-2020 notified earlier. This will significantly ease the burden on companies & their auditors for the year 2019-20.

(iv) As per Schedule 4 to the Companies Act, 2013, Independent Directors are required to hold at least one meeting without the attendance of Non-independent directors and members of management. For the year 2019-20, if the IDs of a company have not been able to hold even one meeting, the same shall not be viewed as a violation.

(v) Requirement to create a Deposit reserve of 20% of deposits maturing during the financial year 2020-21 before 30th April 2020 shall be allowed to be complied with till 30th June 2020.

(vi) Requirement to invest 15% of debentures maturing during a particular year in specified instruments before 30th April 2020, may be done so before 30th June 2020.

(vii) Newly incorporated companies are required to file a declaration for Commencement of Business within 6 months of incorporation. An additional time of 6 more months shall be allowed.

(viii) Non-compliance of minimum residency in India for a period of at least 182 days by at least one director of every company, under Section 149 of the Companies Act, shall not be treated as a violation.

(ix) Due to the emerging financial distress faced by most companies on account of the large-scale economic distress caused by COVID 19, it has been decided to raise the threshold of default under section 4 of the IBC 2016 to ₹ 1 crore (from the existing threshold of ₹ 1 lakh). This will by and large prevent triggering of insolvency proceedings against MSMEs. If the current situation continues beyond 30th of April 2020, we may consider suspending section 7, 9 and 10 of the IBC 2016 for a period of 6 months so as to stop companies at large from being forced into insolvency proceedings in such force majeure causes of default.

References: 

Press Release Dated 24 March 2020

Press Release Dated 31 March 2020

Taxation and other Laws (Relaxation of certain provisions) Ordinance 2020; 31.03.20

RBI Circular Dated 27 March 2020 (revised)

RBI Press Release Dated 1 April 2020

Author can be reached at ca.hsinghal@gmail.com

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