No tax for annual income upto Rs 5 lakh, says Piyush Goyal

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Ahead of the budget, speculation had been rife that the government would be announcing a slew of measures including a direct income transfer scheme for farmers, potentially as a pilot project, to counter the farm loan waiver promised by Congress president Rahul Gandhi.

He said with this, individuals who are earning gross income of Rs 6.5 lakh per year and have made investments in savings instruments, will be exempt from paying income tax. "This will provide tax benefit of Rs 18,500 crore to 3 crore people", he added.

After today's interim budget announcement, a person earning upto Rs 10 lakh can pay zero income tax with smart financial management.

Income tax refunds within 24 hours Income tax refunds will be processed within 24 hours and released immediately. The threshold for tax deduction at source on rent has gone up to Rs 2.4 lakh from current Rs 1.8 lakh. This initiative is likely to benefit 12 crore small and marginal farmers, at an estimated cost of Rs 75,000 crore. Goyal said the tax scrutiny would be done electronically eliminating any interaction between the tax authority and the taxpayer.

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As per the proposal, those who earn more than Rs 5 lakh per annum and less than Rs 10 lakh will have to pay Rs 12,500 plus 20% of the amount by which income exceeds Rs 5 lakh.

The interim budget leaves unchanged the cess on income tax that Finance Minister Arun Jaitley raised to 4 per cent from 3 per cent in the FY2019 budget.

"After the failed budget promise of enhanced procurement of crops through a revised Minimum Support Price (MSP) formula in 2018-19, the Interim Budget will be the last chance for the government to woo a larger section of society by altering both taxes and outlays on the schemes", said expert. The standard deduction limit has also been increased to Rs 50,000.