10 ways the government has eased your financial woes amid COVID-19

Given below are 10 government measures that you can take advantage of to ease some of your financial worries.

April 23, 2020 9:19 IST | India Infoline News Service
accountant calculating financial data
Most of us have been struggling to deal with the enormous change thrust upon us as a result of lockdown put in place to slow the outbreak of coronavirus pandemic. Our routine, lifestyle, as we know it, have been completely overhauled, albeit temporarily. In these circumstances, it gets difficult to keep up with financial aspects like tax submissions, EMI payments, annual investments, insurance premiums, bill payments, etc. Thankfully, the government has taken cognizance of the trying circumstances and has made several provisions to make life a tad bit easier for the common man. Given below are 10 government measures that you can take advantage of to ease some of your financial worries.
  1. Income tax refund deadline (Revised and late filing): The deadline for filing revised and belated income tax returns has been extended by the government for FY2018-19 has been extended. Earlier, the last date to file ITR was March 31, 2020. Income tax returns for the financial year 2018-19 can now be filed until June 30, 2020, with the interest rate on delayed payments reduced to 9% from 12%. According to the Income Tax (I-T) department, an assessee who does not submit a return of income within the deadline is allowed to file a belated return at a later time with certain penalty charges.
  2. EMI moratorium: The Reserve Bank of India has allowed banks to grant a three-month moratorium to their borrowers for term loans outstanding as on March 01, 2020. The RBI has allowed banks and other lenders to decide how they will structure this deferment. This includes all kinds of loans including personal and credit card dues. Borrowers whose term loan installments (including credit card payments) are due between March 01, 2020 and May 31, 2020 have the option of holding their payments. However, do note that interest shall continue to accrue on the outstanding portion of the term loans during the moratorium period.
  3. GST filing: The Ministry of Finance has extended the deadline for filing GST returns for the months of March, April and May, for smaller companies (less than Rs5cr turnover) to June 30. No interest, late fee or penalty will be charged during this period. The date for filing annual GST returns for 2018-19 has also been extended to the last week of June.
  4. PAN-Aadhar link: The deadline to link PAN with Aadhaar has been extended to June 30, 2020. Earlier, the last date was March 31, 2020. Not linking the PAN to Aadhar will make the PAN invalid, according to the current income tax laws.
  5. EPF withdrawal: Now an Employee Provident Fund (EPF) account holder will be allowed to withdraw up to 75% of the balance or three months of wages, whichever is lower, as non-refundable advance. For instance, if your basic salary is Rs50,000 per month, and the balance in your EPF account on March 31, 2020, is Rs10 lakh, you will be able to withdraw Rs1.50 lakh. The added bonus is that these withdrawals will not have any tax implications for its subscribers.
  6. Forms 15H, 15G: The Central government has extended the validity of Forms 15G and 15H submitted by fixed deposit holders during fiscal 2019-20, till June 30, 2020. Depositors have to submit the forms if tax at source (TDS) is not to be deducted by banks while paying/crediting interest on the deposits. In the normal course, for financial year 2020-21, they would have had to submit the forms in the first week of April before the date when the interest becomes due. The circular clarified if a person had submitted these forms to banks for financial year 2019-20, these would now be valid up to June 30, 2020, for financial year 2020-21 also.
  7. Small saving schemes deposits: For mandatory minimum deposit in Public Provident Fund (PPF), Sukanya Samriddhi Account (SSA) and RDs (recurring deposits) for FY 2019-2020, the government has extended the deadline till June 30, 2020. This was done to safeguard the interest of depositors during the pandemic. No revival fee or penalty will be levied on depositors of PPF, SSA or RD accounts who failed to make the mandatory minimum deposit till March 31, 2020. However, in such a case, the interest will be calculated from the actual date of deposits.
  8. Insurance premium payments: The renewal dates of health and motor insurance policies which fall during the period of March 25 to May  03, 2020 are now extended till May 15, the Finance Ministry said in a notification. This implies that the existing policies which are due for renewal during the lockdown can be renewed till the middle of the next month. Usually, if you fail to pay premium on or before the renewal date, the policy ceases to be in force. Any valid claim triggered during the grace period can be paid, the ministry added.
  9. Vivad se Vishwas: The deadline for settling tax disputes under the scheme has been extended from March 31, 2020 to June 30, 2020. With the extension of the deadline, taxpayers will not have to pay any penalty and interest and be able to settle tax disputes by the new deadline. Earlier, individuals would have had to pay an extra 10% of the disputed tax amount, if he/she opted to settle their tax dispute after March 31, 2020.
  10. ECR filing: In a bid to relax mandatory electronic challan return (ECR) filing by the employers, the retirement fund body - Employees' Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) has extended the deadline by a month, from current April 15, 2020 to May 15, 2020 for the filings which were due for March 2020. The EPFO also decided to waive off any interest liability and penalty in this extended period.

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