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No major income tax relief in Budget, new agri cess won’t push up petrol & alcohol prices

Govt has levied an agriculture infrastructure and development cess on a host of items, but this is unlikely to impact the final consumer.

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New Delhi: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced extension of tax breaks for affordable housing, but refrained from making any changes to personal income tax slabs or providing any new exemptions to taxpayers in her Budget 2021 speech.

The Budget also introduced an Agriculture Infrastructure and Development Cess on a host of items, including gold and silver dore bars, alcoholic beverages, palm oil, apples, and petrol and diesel. However, there will be no increase in final consumer prices, Budget documents stressed, as the government has reduced the corresponding customs and excise duty rates on these times.

“Overall, there will be no additional burden on the consumer on most of these items,” said the annexure to Sitharaman’s Budget speech.

The Budget documents introduced the agriculture cess of Rs 2.5 per litre on petrol and Rs 4 per litre on diesel, while reducing the excise duty on them at the same time.

Similarly, agri cess of 100 per cent has been levied on some alcoholic beverages, but the corresponding basic customs duty has been reduced from 150 per cent to 50 per cent.

Sitharaman reiterated as much in the post-Budget press conference.

“End consumer will not end up paying more in any category on account of the Agriculture Infrastructure and Development Cess,” she said.

Also read: Winners & losers: Who got what in Nirmala Sitharaman’s Budget 2021

Tax breaks

Budget 2021 extended the tax breaks for the purchase of an affordable house.

“It is proposed to extend the eligibility period for claims of additional deduction for interest of Rs 1.5 lakh paid for loan taken for purchase of an affordable house to 31st March 2022,” stated the annexure.

The eligibility period of the tax holiday for real estate developers constructing affordable housing has also been extended by a year till 31 March 2022.

The government will also allow tax exemption for maturity proceeds of the ULIP, having annual premium up to Rs 2.5 lakh.

Some respite has also been provided to senior citizens aged 75 years and above. They have been exempted from filing income tax returns as long as their only source of income is their pension.

In a taxpayer-friendly move, the government has also reduced the time allowed for reopening of assessments by the income tax department from six years to three years.

Also read: Budget puts roads in focus in poll-bound states, Bengal & Assam tea workers get welfare push


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