I-T refunds worth Rs 1.32 lakh cr issued to 39.75 lakh taxpayers


NEW DELHI: The Income Tax department has
issued
refunds
worth over
Rs
1.32
lakh crore
to over 39
lakh
taxpayers so far this fiscal.

This include Personal income tax (PIT)
refunds amounting
to
Rs 35,123 crore and corporate tax
refunds amounting
to
Rs 97,677 crore during this period.

“CBDT issues
refunds of over
Rs 1,32,800 crore
to more than
39.75
lakh
taxpayers between April 1,2020
to November 10,2020. Income tax
refunds of
Rs 35,123 crore have been
issued in 37,81,599 cases and corporate tax
refunds of
Rs 97,677 crore have been
issued in 1,93,813 cases,” the
I
T department tweeted.





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Coronavirus: More than £1bn being held in refunds for cancelled holidays | UK News



Customers are waiting for more than £1bn in refunds due to package holidays being cancelled because of coronavirus.

The estimate from Which? was based on results from a survey of more than 7,500 people who had a package holiday cancelled as a result of the pandemic, as well as population figures.

Around 9.4 million people have had a package holiday cancelled since the UK’s first lockdown in March and, of those who requested a refund, 21% were still waiting at the beginning of October.

More than four out of 10 people told Which? they had waited longer than a month for their refund.

The average cost of a cancelled holiday was £1,784, the research found.

Holiday companies are required to refund money within 14 days after a trip is cancelled.

However, the number of cancellations due to the coronavirus pandemic has left many of them overwhelmed.

The situation is set to get worse after new rules are introduced across England later this week, banning most international travel.

Rory Boland, editor of Which? Travel, said: “Without meaningful intervention from the government and the regulators in this space, many people will struggle to get their money back.

“The CMA must take firm action against any operators that are continuing to drag their feet on refunding holidaymakers and the government must urgently set out how it will support travel companies in fulfilling their legal obligations to passengers.”

During the summer, the Competition and Markets Authority launched an investigation into package travel companies’ handling of cancellations and refunds.



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Ryanair will not provide refunds for November flights


Ryanair customers will not be refunded for flights in November, according to its boss, despite the UK government banning all but essential travel.

Michael O’Leary said if a flight was operating, passengers would not get their money back but they could change to a later flight without paying a fee.

From Thursday, all but essential travel will be banned under a second lockdown.

Ryanair said the first lockdown and subsequent restrictions resulted in an 80% drop in passenger numbers.

It said 17.1 million people travelled on the airline in the six months to September, compared with 85.7 million last year.

The carrier reported a €196.5m (£174m) loss for the period compared with a €1.15bn profit last year.

But it warned the situation was likely to worsen, saying it “will continue to be a hugely challenging year for Ryanair”.

The new lockdown measures for England to stop the spread of the coronavirus were announced on Saturday and are expected to come into force on 5 November following a vote in the House of Commons on Wednesday.

They will remain in place until at least 2 December though Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove said restrictions could extend beyond that date.

Commenting on what it means for people who have booked flights, Mr O’Leary told the BBC’s Today programme: “If a flight is operating then no, we will not be offering refunds.

“But what customers can avail of is our change facility and we’ve waived the change fee so if they have booking in November they can change it and move it to December or January if needs be. But there won’t be refunds on flights that are operating and travelling.”

Revenues in the six months to September plunged to €1.1bn from €5.3bn last year.

During the period, air travel ground to a virtual halt as countries introduced measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

However, when flights did resume Ryanair said passenger confidence and forward bookings “were negatively impacted by the return of uncoordinated EU government flight restrictions in September and October which heavily curtailed travel to and from much of Central Europe, the UK, Ireland, Austria, Belgium and Portugal”.





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Former Amazon Employee Charged with Falsely Issuing Refunds to Himself


Amazon announced Monday that Vu Anh Nguyen, a former employee of the company, had been charged by the Department of Justice with federal criminal counts of wire fraud and aggravated identity theft.

According to Amazon, in July they reported Nguyen to the authorities for “falsely issuing refunds for products ordered on Amazon.com to himself and his associates.” The Securities and Exchange Commission, in August, had brought charges against a Vu Anh Nguyen.

The criminal complaint, as reported by Geekwire, alleges that Nguyen “issued more than $96,000 in fraudulent refunds to himself and associates while working as a selling support associate based in Tempe, Ariz.” The government claims the scheme entailed issuing refunds for products that were never actually refunded to Amazon.

“Amazon has systems and processes in place to mitigate misuse of our tools, and to monitor and detect suspicious behavior,” the company said in the announcement. “Amazon’s systems identified the suspicious refunds and Amazon conducted a thorough investigation. Nguyen’s employment was immediately terminated and Amazon reported the case to law enforcement.”

The indictment is one of several this year to lead to federal criminal charges involving alleged manipulation, or worse, involving Amazon’s supply chain and product procurement systems.

In August, the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York brought charges against a quartet of brothers, for allegedly “engaging in a scheme to systematically defraud amazon.com,” to the tune of $19 million. According to SDNY, the four brothers opened vendor accounts with Amazon, accepted purchase orders, and then filed false invoices for thousands of products. The government says they have WhatsApp logs showing the defendants discussing the ins and outs of the scheme.

All four defendants in that case were charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, and money laundering.

In a separate case, in September, six men were charged in the Western District of Washington for “conspiring to pay over $100,000 in commercial bribes to Amazon employees and contractors, in exchange for an unfair competitive advantage on the Amazon Marketplace.” Those defendants are charged with conspiracy to use a communication facility to commit commercial bribery, conspiracy to access a protected computer without authorization, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and wire fraud.

The scheme in the Washington case entailed bribery of at least ten Amazon employees and contractors, who in turn reinstated suspended accounts, misappropriated Amazon’s confidential business information, and more.

“Realizing they could not compete on a level playing field, the subjects turned to bribery and fraud in order to gain the upper hand. What’s equally concerning, not only did they attempt to increase sales of their own products, but sought to damage and discredit their competitors,” Raymond Duda, Special agent in charge, FBI Seattle, said of the Washington case. “This indictment should send a message that the FBI will not sit on the sidelines while criminals try to cheat their way to the top.”

Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.

Image: Reuters




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Income tax refunds worth Rs 88,652 crore issued to 24.64 lakh taxpayers so far this fiscal


NEW DELHI: The income tax (I-T) department on Friday said it has issued refunds worth Rs 88,652 crore to over 24 lakh taxpayers so far this fiscal.
This include personal income tax (PIT) refunds amounting to Rs 28,180 crore issued to over 23.05 lakh taxpayers and corporate tax refunds amounting to Rs 60,472 crore to over 1.58 lakh taxpayers during this period.
“CBDT has, so far, issued refunds of over Rs 88,652 crore to more than 24.64 lakh taxpayers from 1st April, 2020 onwards. Income tax refunds of Rs 28,180 crore have been issued in 23,05,726 cases & corporate tax refunds of Rs 60,472 crore have been issued in 1,58,280 cases,” the I-T department tweeted.

The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) is the apex decision-making body in direct tax matters, administers personal income tax and corporate tax.
The government has emphasised on providing tax related services to taxpayers without any hassles during Covid-19 pandemic and to that end has been clearing up pending tax refunds.





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Coronavirus: ‘Refunds unlikely’ if travellers have to self-isolate


Cala Aiguablava Beach near Girona in SpainImage copyright
Reuters

Image caption

Resorts in Spain are preparing to welcome back British tourists

Holidaymakers will be “bearing all the risk” when overseas getaways return as they face little chance of refunds if they go into self-isolation.

Anyone who gets coronavirus symptoms at the time they are booked to go away is highly unlikely to get their money back when they cancel their holiday.

Package holiday firms and travel insurance will probably not pay out.

Alex Neill, of resolution service Resolver, said UK tourists needed to be aware they were “taking a risk”.

“It is likely that new travel insurance policies won’t cover you if you develop symptoms before going on holiday – and if the flight or packaged holiday isn’t cancelled then you have no automatic right to compensation,” she said.

“While it’s important to the economy to support the travel industry, at this time it’s the customer who is bearing all of the risk.”

From next week, blanket restrictions on non-essential overseas travel are likely to be relaxed in the UK.

Travel companies said that holiday bookings “exploded” after ministers announced that restrictions would be eased.

Image copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

Overseas travel is expected to be permitted for a summer getaway

Interest has been heightened by the expectation that dozens of countries will be exempt from travel quarantine requirements.

That should mean English holidaymakers returning from lower-risk countries will not need to self-isolate for 14 days when they get home.

Travel insurance gaps

People going on overseas getaways are strongly advised to take out travel insurance, which will still cover them for accidents, injury, lost luggage and so on. A European Health Insurance Card will also give access to state healthcare in the EU.

Some new travel insurance policies will now cover medical treatment for Covid-19 which has been caught while in a resort.

However, people who need to cancel a holiday because they or a loved one develop symptoms before going away, or are told to self-isolate at home, are highly unlikely to be covered.

Similarly, package holiday providers are unlikely to give a refund or allow rebooking if a customer cancels in such circumstances.

There is a risk that people with holidays booked may try to ignore symptoms, or discard advice from contact tracers to self-isolate. The government has said people have a “civic duty” to quarantine if they receive a call from test and trace advisers.

“Most people would behave responsibly even if that meant losing their holiday, but I would also expect holiday and insurance companies to show a little compassion in these circumstances,” Ms Neill said.

“Driving consumers to do the wrong thing can’t be an unintended consequence of opening back up from lockdown.”

Insurance companies argue that coronavirus is no longer an unforeseen event, so may not be included in cover.

The added protection usually available from booking via a credit card is also unlikely to be successful in such cases.

When holidays may be protected

There may be better news for people who already had a travel insurance policy bought or renewed prior to early March as they may still be able to make a claim for such a cancellation, but they should check their policy.

If the UK, or a destination country, re-introduces restrictions on travel as a result of a fresh outbreak, then a package holiday company or airline should refund holidays or flights that they then need to cancel.

However, refunds are unlikely if a 14-day quarantine rule is brought back in and a holidaymaker chooses to cancel as a result.

People taking a holiday within the UK will have to look at terms and conditions when booking for information about their cancellation rights.



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Coronavirus: Air France-KLM to make refunds for cancelled flights more available


Air France and KLM have moved to make cash refunds more widely available for flights cancelled amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The Dutch airline and its French sister carrier both announced in mid-May that they would offer refunds as an alternative to vouchers, in a major policy reversal.

But at the time they restricted refunds to future cancellations: those taking place after May 15 — although both companies said that vouchers issued previously could be reimbursed after a year if they had not been fully used.

Now, in a new joint statement, the airlines are giving passengers a choice, regardless of when their flight was cancelled.

“In case of flight cancellations made by Air France or KLM, customers will be able to choose between rebooking, a voucher or a cash refund whatever the cancellation date of their flight. Customers who already received a voucher and wish to opt for a cash refund can do so,” the statement says.

The voucher policy remains in place, and the carriers have developed a series of incentives — including an added value bonus of 15% — to encourage people to choose this option.

Air France-KLM has been granted an emergency package worth about €10 billion in loans and guarantees from the French and Dutch governments amid the pandemic. Both airlines’ fleets have been almost entirely grounded by the collapse in air travel.

But some consumer groups say even greater amounts have effectively been loaned to airlines by out-of-pocket would-be passengers, in the form of payments for flights that never materialised. There are reports of many customers having to wait for long periods for refunds, even in cases where they are offered.

Thousands of European airline passengers have been unable to obtain ticket refunds, with companies offering vouchers or replacement flights instead. European regulations say passengers must be offered a refund if a flight is cancelled.

Lobbying groups have put pressure on the European Union to relax rules on passenger rights amid the devastating impact of the pandemic, but the European Commission has insisted that refunds remain an option.



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Spain to investigate airlines which haven’t offered refunds for cancelled flights



FILE PHOTO: Spain’s Consumer Affairs Minister Alberto Garzon arrives to attend the first cabinet meeting at the Moncloa Palace in Madrid, Spain, January 14, 2020. REUTERS/Susana Vera

June 4, 2020

MADRID (Reuters) – Spain’s government has requested an investigation into several airlines for allegedly breaching European Union regulations on compensation for cancelled flights, Consumer Protection Minister Alberto Garzon said on Thursday.

As the coronavirus pandemic grounded planes around the world, airlines routinely offered vouchers for cancelled flights without informing customers of their right to a full cash refund, in contravention of EU rules, Garzon said on state broadcaster TVE.

Under EU rules, airlines must offer to reimburse customers whose trips were cancelled within seven days of the cancellation.

“We found out that this was not happening,” Garzon told TVE. “The majority of airlines, though not all, have been engaging in bad practice.”

The ministry said 17 airlines continued to offer vouchers without informing customers of the right to a refund, even after they received a written warning.

A judge will now investigate the situation and decide whether to take further action against the companies, Garzon said.

He did not specify which airlines were included in the investigation though he acknowledged the fallout from the coronavirus had put the sector under financial strain.

“Airlines of course have problems from the health crisis but that’s why the government has set up credit lines and other forms of support,” he said.

Last month, the Spanish government granted 1 billion euros ($1.12 billion) of government-backed loans to cope with the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic to International Consolidated Airlines Group’s <ICAG.L> Spanish airlines Iberia and Vueling.

(Reporting by Nathan Allen; Editing by Inti Landauro, Kirsten Donovan)





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State Government keeps F1 Grand Prix race fee but stumps up ticket refunds


The state government has avoided paying a race hosting fee, worth tens of millions of dollars, to Formula 1 after this year’s Australian Grand Prix was cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The race was called off at the last minute in dramatic circumstances in March, with the pandemic gathering pace, key drivers walking out and the state government ordering the event could only go ahead without crowds at the Albert Park venue.

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Chaotic scenes ensued as hundreds of fans arrived at the track for the first day’s racing only to be told the Grand Prix was off.

Sports Minister Martin Pakula told a parliamentary committee on Wednesday that the government-owned Grand Prix Corporation had struck a deal with the sport’s owners that the hosting fee, believed to be about $60 million, would not be paid this year.



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