- Nirmala Sitharaman presented her third budget in the parliament
- She quoted Tamil saint Thiruvalluvar as she presented tax proposals
- This year's budget, according to the government, rests on six pillars
Pensioners above 75 years of age will no longer have to file income tax returns, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said today as she presented the Union Budget 2021 in parliament.
In her speech, the Finance Minister elaborated the ruling government's efforts for simplifying the taxation process, and stressed that more people have been filing tax returns. "Few months before the (novel coronavirus) pandemic, the government slashed the corporate tax rate to make it the lowest in the world. The burden on small taxpayers was eased by increasing rebates. In 2020, the return filers increased to 6.48 crore from 3.31 crore in 2014. In the direct tax administration, we had recently introduced the faceless assessment. I now seek to take further steps to further simplify the tax administration," Ms Sitharaman told the parliament.
"I begin my direct tax proposals by offering my pranam to senior citizens. Many of them - despite having foregone several basic necessities of their own - have strived to build our nation. We shall reduce the compliance burden on our senior citizens who are 75 years of age and above. For senior citizens who only have pensions and interest as income, I propose exemption from filing their income tax returns. The paying bank will deduct the necessary tax on their income," the 61-year-old Finance Minister said as MPs around thumped desks in approval. No changes were introduced for the personal income tax slabs.
Before she started presenting the proposals on tax returns, Ms Sitharaman quoted Tamil saint Thiruvalluvar. "A king or a ruler is the one who creates and acquires wealth and distributes it for common good," she said.
This year's budget, according to the government, rests on six pillars: health and well-being, physical and financial capital and infrastructure, inclusive development for aspirational India, reinvigorating human capital, innovation and research and development, and "minimum government, maximum governance".
Increase in budget by 137 per cent was one of the big announcements of the day. "The thrust and focus to health in India's Budget2021 is a testimony to the country's commitment to not just fight back COVID19 pandemic, but to build a stronger and resilient health system, " Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director, WHO, South East Asia, said.