“Finance Minister Sitharaman’s Budget Speech: Tax Clarity, Relief for Taxpayers, and Focus on Social Justice”
In her interim budget speech, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman provided a clear stance on tax rates, retaining consistency for both direct and indirect taxes, including import duties. This announcement brings clarity to the much-anticipated postulations regarding the new tax regime introduced in the Union Budget 2023. Sitharaman affirmed her commitment to convention, keeping the existing tax rates.
Direct Taxation Highlights:
Addressing direct taxation, the finance minister proposed the withdrawal of outstanding tax demands, offering relief for taxpayers. Demands up to Rs 25,000 for the period up to the financial year 2009-10 and up to Rs 10,000 for financial years 2010-11 to 2014-15 will be withdrawn. This move is anticipated to benefit approximately a crore taxpayers, reflecting a step towards easing financial burdens.
Focused Changes for Startups and Investments:
The budget brought forth a significant change concerning startups and investments made by sovereign wealth or pension funds. Additionally, tax exemption on specific income for some IFSC units, expiring on March 31, is proposed for extension by a year, now valid until March 31, 2025. These adjustments signal the government’s attention to fostering a conducive environment for economic growth and innovation.
Commitment to Social Justice and Structural Reforms:
Finance Minister Sitharaman emphasized the government’s dedication to social justice as an “effective and necessary governance model.” She highlighted ongoing structural reforms, prompt implementation of pro-people programs, and the creation of conditions to boost entrepreneurship and employment. The budget presentation underscores the government’s holistic approach to governance beyond mere fiscal considerations.
Enhancements in Taxpayer Services:
Sitharaman detailed the government’s focus on improving taxpayer services, citing transformations in the assessment system with Faceless Assessment and Appeal. She noted the introduction of updated income tax returns, a new Form 26AS, and prefilling of tax returns, simplifying the filing process. Notably, the average time taken for processing returns has significantly reduced, from 93 days in 2013-14 to a mere 10 days this year, ensuring faster refunds.
Budget Context and Overview:
This marks Finance Minister Sitharaman’s sixth budget, presented as an interim budget due to its occurrence in an election year. The speech not only navigated tax-related concerns but also underscored the government’s commitment to social justice, structural reforms, and efficient governance models.*