New Delhi: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday announced a relaxation and cancelled late fees for anyone whose tax return filing is still pending but have cleared all their tax liabilities. Also Read - Madhya Pradesh Now Has Over 1,000 Containment Zones, Indore Tops The List

“For the period from July 2017 to Jan 2020, which is prior to COVID period, a lot of return filing has been pending. For all those who have no tax liabilities but who have not filed their returns between July 2017-Jan 2020 there will be zero late fees,” the minister said during a press briefing following the 40th GST council meeting via video conferencing today. Also Read - China Did Not Report COVID-19 Outbreak in Initial Stages, WHO Takes U-Turn

Moreover, Sitharaman said that people who have tax liabilities, the maximum late fee for furnishing GST returns has been capped at Rs 500, applicable to returns submitted between July 1 and September 30. The decision has been taken in order to clean up tax return pendencies, she said. Also Read - Gautam Buddh Nagar News: COVID-19 Helpline in Noida Receives Around 400 Calls Daily

“For people who have tax liability, the maximum late fee for non-filing of GSTR-3B returns for the period July 2017 – January 2020 has been capped to Rs 500. This will apply to all returns submitted during July 1, 2020 – September 30, 2020,” FM Sitharaman noted.

She further announced relaxations for small taxpayers and said, “For small taxpayers whose aggregate turnover is up to Rs 5 crore, the rate of interest for late furnishing of GST returns for Feb, Mar and April 2020, beyond July 6, 2020: the rate of interest is being reduced from 18% to 9% per annum and that is only till Sept 30.” She added that they will have to pay no interest on late furnishing of GST returns till July 6.

Notably, this is the first GST Council meeting amid the coronavirus lockdown which began at the end of March. The new measures have been announced in order to relieve taxpayers from difficulties faced during this crisis. However, the GST rates are unlikely to be changed.