**EDS: VIDEO GRAB VIA SANSAD TV** New Delhi: Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presents the Interim Budget 2024 in the Lok Sabha, at Parliament House in New Delhi, Thursday, Feb. 1, 2024. (PTI Photo)(PTI02_01_2024_000117A)
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Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharamaman in her interim budget speech proposed to retain the same tax rates for both direct and indirect taxes, including import duties. The much-awaited announcement endows clarity about postulations if the new tax regime, that was introduced in the Union Budget 2023, would be made the default regime. Ms Sitharaman opened her announcements stating that she was keeping with the convention.
Further on the direct taxation front, the finance minister proposed to withdraw outstanding tax demands up to Rs 25,000 for the period up to financial year 2009-10 and up to Rs 10,000 for financial years 2010-11 to 2014-15. She stated the move is expected to benefit about “a crore taxpayers”.
The only major change to taxation was tabled with respect to startups and investments made by sovereign wealth or pension funds, alongside tax exemption on certain income of some IFSC units – which are expiring on March 31. In this light, she proposed to extend the same by a year to March 31, 2025.
Interim Budget 2024 LIVE Coverage : Nirmala Sitharaman presents Budget
Earlier, unrelatedly, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had stated that social justice was not just a political slogan for the government, but an “effective and necessary governance model”. Enumerating on structural reforms, she had stated the pro-people programmes were being implemented promptly, economy was sustaining the vigour and conditions were being created for boosting entrepreneurship and employment.
Ms Sitharaman also enumerated about the government’s focus on improving taxpayer services. “The age-old jurisdiction-based assessment system was transformed with the introduction of Faceless Assessment and Appeal, thereby imparting greater efficiency, transparency and accountability,” she said. Furthermore, she held, introduction of updated income tax returns, a new form 26AS and prefilling of tax returns have made filing of tax returns “simpler and easier”.
More importantly, as enumerated by the finance minister, the average time taken for processing of returns stands reduced from 93 days as observed in 2013-14 to 10 days this year. Thus, making refunds faster.
Ms Sitharaman is presenting her sixth budget, the latest being interim citing its occurrence in the election year.