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By This Measure, China’s Yuan Is Best-Placed Since 2012 Rally

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China’s yuan is flashing the strongest technical signal since 2012 for gains against the U.S. dollar.

The onshore currency’s 50-day moving average has fallen below its 200-day mean, completing the so-called golden cross pattern that some analysts interpret as a sign that a rally will continue. While such crossovers happen frequently, this is the first time in eight years that both moving averages are trending down, a phenomenon some market watchers say signals a true golden cross.

Looking for Carry Trade? Yuan Ranks Among the Best: China Today

The dollar is heading for a fifth month of losses. Meanwhile, China’s success in restarting the economy after the pandemic, the widening of its current-account surplus, its relative yields over dollar assets and foreign inflows are all supportive of further gains for the yuan.

In addition to the golden cross pattern, the currency has broken through a trend line that’s limited its gains since March 2019. The line has now become a support for the Chinese currency -- potentially limiting any losses.

Fiona Lim, a senior currency analyst at Malayan Banking Berhad in Singapore, predicts a stronger yuan and suggests investors look to the trend in the 100-day mean, now that the 50-day and 200-day averages have already completed a cross.

“A decisive break below could see USD/CNH trade lower towards 6.85 levels,” she wrote.

The onshore yuan was trading little changed at 6.9409 on Thursday, holding its gains since May at 3.4%. Its offshore counterpart was at 6.9372.

Look for China’s Yuan to Trade Around 7 a Dollar in 2H, UBS Says

While technicals point to further strengthening, the yuan remains vulnerable to an escalation in U.S.-China tensions. With a discussion imminent on the so-called phase one trade deal between the two nations, the next several days could be a testing time for the currency.

Speaking of EM: Chinese Yuan and Phase One Trade Risks (Podcast)

The yuan capped its last golden cross between the 50-day and 200-day averages in October 2012 when Federal Reserve stimulus stoked capital flows into China. The pattern was followed by an extended advance until January 2014, when a 5.9% rally ended.

Since then, the shorter average fell below the longer average four times -- in 2014, 2017, 2019 and earlier this year. But all of them had a rising 200-day mean, making them weaker signals.

There were also four crossovers between the 100-day and 200-day averages since 2012, but there hasn’t been one with both of them trending down.

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Forex - Dollar Weakens as Politicians Squabble and Inflation Rises

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 The dollar weakened in early European trade Thursday, amid fading hopes for additional economic stimulus while inflation figures surprised to the upside.

At 3 AM ET (0700 GMT), the Dollar Index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of six other currencies, was down 0.3% at 93.157. USD/JPY was down 0.2% at 106.72, GBP/USD rose 0.3% to 1.3066 and EUR/USD was up 0.4% at 1.1826.

Weighing on the greenback has been the inability of the U.S. lawmakers to come to any sort of consensus regarding the country’s latest Covid-19 stimulus package, a deal that many feel is necessary to keep the economic recovery on track.

U.S. President Donald Trump accused Democrats on Wednesday of not wanting to negotiate over the package, with Republican and Democratic negotiators trading barbs and blame as negotiations ended without a result for the fifth day.

 On Tuesday, Richmond Fed President Thomas Barkin stated that the economy could take another downturn if U.S. policymakers fail to provide more financial aid. 

He was backed up Wednesday by Federal Reserve Bank of Boston President Eric Rosengren, who said he "strongly" supported taking additional fiscal action to help businesses and households survive the crisis. But, added more spending should be combined with more robust efforts to contain the virus.

U.S. deaths caused by Covid-19 topped 166,000 as of Aug. 13, with confirmed cases rising by more than 4% in the past week, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University.

Adding to the problems facing the dollar were the latest inflation figures, with strong numbers from both the consumer and producer sides.

"The 0.6% month-on-month increase in July core CPI was jaw dropping," Jefferies (NYSE:JEF) said in a note. "It was the largest sequential jump since January 1991. While this momentum in pricing is unlikely to be sustained, the strength was broad-based and cannot be ignored."

With the Federal Reserve already committed to keeping its benchmark rates at these very lows for some time, the pressure is building on U.S. real yields.

“Much discussed in financial markets this summer is the drop in U.S. real yields as the Fed keeps rates low, while U.S. inflation expectations are on the rise,” said Chris Turner at ING, in a research note to clients.

“Expect this macro-policy theme to play a major role in FX market pricing ahead of a possible Fed adoption of an average inflation target in September. This theme is a broad dollar negative.”

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Five challenges that will determine success of NEP 2020

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India took a giant leap forward by launching the New Education Policy 2020 (NEP 2020) on July 29, three decades after the last major revision to the policy in 1986. The NEP 2020 advocates three key thematic developments: One, a move from content-driven pedagogy that inspired rote learning to conceptual testing; two, a 360-degree assessment covering educational, mental, and physical well-being of the students, and; three, an experiential approach through vocational skills, mathematical and computational thinking, and new-age skills such as coding and data science.

The motivation is to make Indian learners truly future-ready, and global citizens. The Government of India seems intent in rolling out the vision in terms of curriculum revision, teacher-training, and equipping schools for ICT-enabled and assessment-driven evaluation over the next few years. This is critical for India to truly reap the demographic dividend through re-skilling, vocational training, and job creation.

The objective is noble, and the policy is timely. However, the success and pace of implementation will depend on how successfully the government can scale five key challenges.

Curriculum And Content

The NEP calls for curriculum and pedagogical changes. The boards which conduct examinations will need to re-think how they assess students and what the learning content rubric should be. School textbooks will need realignment too. Given that 87 percent of K12 learners in India are in the schools with annual tuition fee of less than Rs 12,000, these changes will need to be easily cascaded across tiers of schools.

Teacher Availability

Over 250M-plus students are estimated to enrol in K12 schools in India by 2030. At a teacher-student ratio of 1:35, India would need an estimated 7M-plus teachers to address this burgeoning student population who will need to have graduated through the defined B.Ed programme for 12th pass, graduates and post-graduates for four, two and one year respectively.

Teacher Skilling

Teaching is one of the low-paid professions in India with an average teacher earning around Rs 200,000 per year. Given these constraints, experiential learning, and concept-oriented teaching, versus the currently prevalent printed content-oriented teaching will be tough.

A comprehensive National Curriculum Framework for Teacher Education has also been announced in the NEP in addition to Teacher Eligibility Tests (TETs) to create a talented and curated pool of educators who can impart quality education to the students. However, the current pool of educators needs to be orientated towards these teaching techniques.

Until the structural constraint in teacher remuneration is not corrected in the education ecosystem, the NEP implementation in spirit and form will stay challenged. Rollout of such a curriculum could produce unintended academic results for underprivileged learners who will now not have books or other supplementary aids to fall back on.

Technology At Scale

Digital infrastructure of similar scale will be needed using digital classrooms, remote expertise-driven teaching models, AR/VR tools to bridge gaps in physical teaching and laboratory infrastructure, uniform assessments across schools even in remote villages, career counselling and teacher training aids.

Evaluation Infrastructure

Under the NEP, examinations are being advised to transform towards a culture of assessment with continuous tracking of learning outcomes, a focus on higher order and foundational skills, and AI-based software progress tracking to enable students to make optimal career choices. Continuous assessment requires schools and teachers to innovate on evaluation approaches and assignments that are thought-provoking and require students to apply themselves.

Compared to theory-based-examinations that have unilateral questions and answers that are easier to administer and score, holistic assessments would require educational boards and institutions to invest significantly in creating these assessments and practice assignments. Of the 1.5M-plus schools in India, 75 percent are run by the government at a very low to no annual fee structure. Of the remaining 400,000 private schools, about 80 percent schools fall in the category of ‘Budget Private Schools’ charging Rs 500-1,000 per month, leaving a mere 15,000 (less than one percent of total schools) that can support the necessary infrastructure required for conceptualising and conducting such assessments.

The NEP 2020 drafting committee has undertaken a comprehensive process that considers state/UT governments, global best practices, expert opinions, field experiences, and stakeholder feedback. In the more affluent echelons, privately-owned Edtech is already taking a large part of the education spend away from the formal education systems.

The vision is aspirational. The implementation roadmap and rigour will determine whether this truly fosters education-for-all and job creation.

A chunk of bad loans may not be eligible for one-time restructuring: Report

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Bad loans worth Rs 5.7 lakh crore may not be eligible under the one-time restructuring scheme permitted by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).

These repayments, classified as special mention accounts (SMAs), were already overdue by more than 30 days on March 1, the deadline set by the central bank, 

Of the total standard loans, which stood at Rs 94.9 lakh crore at the end of March, 6.03 percent are loans with repayments delayed by 31-90 days, the report added.

This one-time recast will apply to loans overdue for over 30 days (SMA-1 accounts), where the repayment is delayed by 31-60 days, and SMA-2, where the repayment is late by 61-90 days.

The RBI had on August 6 said banks can conduct a one-time restructuring of loans, a move intended to provide borrowers relief during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"It is good that there are specific entry norms to the recast scheme this time. However, we have already been setting aside provisions for stressed loans. Despite provisions, we cannot recast without classifying them as bad, leading to more provisions and capital erosion," the CEO of a state-run lender told Mint.

The RBI had in March instructed banks to set aside 10 percent provisions against SMA-2 loans under moratorium in two tranches.

"September quarter results are unlikely to see a jump in bad loans, except for SMA-2 loan accounts. However, the gradual rise in non-performing loans will begin from the December quarter," a banker told the paper.

Gratuity eligibility criteria may be relaxed; here’s how to calculate the balance

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Gratuity Eligibility: The Central government is considering relaxing the minimum eligibility condition for gratuity payments to employees. It is planning to lower the threshold from five years of continuous employment to between one and three years amid growing demand to make the gratuity eligibility criteria shorter.

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Labour, in a recently tabled report, had recommended that the existing period of five years of continuous service for gratuity payment to employees should be reduced to one year.

Under the Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972, an employee who has worked in a company for over five years is eligible for gratuity by his/her employer.

The Act states that all employees, who are involved in factories, mines, oilfields, plantations, ports, railway companies, shops or other establishments, in which 10 or more persons are employed, are required to be paid gratuity by their employers. 

Gratuity is paid mainly at a time of retirement, but in certain conditions it can be paid even before retirement.

There is no set percentage for the amount of gratuity that an employee is supposed to receive. The amount payable depends upon the last drawn salary and years of service of the employee. 

Gratuity is defined as a benefit plan and is one of the major after-job perks received from an employer. 

Here are three ways to calculate one's gratuity balance:

- An employee can visit the Income Tax Department's website ( website). Click on 'Tax Tools' option and search Gratuity from the available options. The given calculator will compute the amount of gratuity payable with respect to the input values such as assessment year, type of employer, gratuity received, exempted gratuity and taxable gratuity.

- A employee can check with his/her employer or with the human resource department in the organisation with regards to the gratuity balance or amount.    

- The formula for calculating gratuity is 15 x (last drawn salary) x (tenure of working)/26 (days). For instance, employee X's last drawn salary is Rs 50,000 per month and has worked with ABC Ltd for about 30 years. So, his gratuity will be calculated as: (15 x 50,000 x 30)/26= Rs 9,37,500. In this formula, the time period of more than six months is considered as one year.

Dollar’s Decline Not as Stunning After Adjusting For Inflation

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The dollar’s stunning decline last month, the most in a decade, suddenly looks a lot less consequential once you take into consideration the inflation-adjusted value of the greenback.

That’s the view of veteran strategist Marshall Gittler, who suggested investors should adjust for price levels, use a wider basket of trading peers than the closely-followed U.S. Dollar Index and remember how much the currency had previously risen, in order to put its move in proper context. While the gauge of the dollar fell 4.2% in July, the U.S. Fed Trade-Weighted Real Broad Dollar Index only weakened by 0.9%, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

“Back in April, the recent peak, the dollar’s real value was the highest it’s been in nearly 18 years,” Gittler, head of investment research at BDSwiss Group, said in a note Friday, published by Nasdaq. “That was the extraordinary move, not the recent decline.”

The Federal Reserve index’s 3.6% drop since April is “far from being a catastrophe that needs explaining” and is in line with its historical long-term trading pattern, he said. By comparison, the Dollar Index is down 7.1% from its April peak.

Gittler joins other strategists, including those at JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM) & Co., pushing back on the intensifying debate over the future of the dollar, including threats of a structural decline voiced by analysts at Goldman Sachs Group Inc 

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Pound US Dollar (GBP/USD) Exchange Rate Flat as UK Employment Tumbles

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Largest Fall in Employment Since 2009 leaves Pound Sterling US Dollar (GBP/USD) Exchange Rate Muted

The Pound Sterling US Dollar (GBP/USD) exchange rate remained flat on Tuesday morning. This left the pairing trading at around $1.3095 following the latest employment data.

The Pound struggled to make gains after this morning’s data showed the number of people in employment fell by 220,000 in Q2.he Office for National Statistics (ONS) noted this was the largest fall in employment since 2009. The coronavirus crisis took a huge toll on the labour market despite support from the government’s furlough scheme.

The unemployment rate held steady at 3.9%, although this largely reflected huge numbers of Brits giving up looking for work.

Separate data also showed that the number of staff on company payrolls fell by -730,000 since March. This suggests there will be a larger increase in the country’s unemployment rate.

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No TPA? Soon, you may be following up on a health insurance claim directly with the insurer

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Insurance regulator IRDA has directed third-party administrators (TPA) not to take health claims payment decisions on behalf of insurance companies. This means that a TPA, which is essentially an intermediary between a health insurance policyholder and a general insurer, will merely be involved with the processing of claims.

Whenever a policyholder files a health insurance claim, a TPA has to be contacted. The TPA is an external entity that works with multiple general insurers to help process customer claims. However, the rise in health insurance claims, which has been accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic, and complaints over payment delays, has pushed general insurance companies to set up internal teams to ensure payments are quicker.

HDFC ERGO General Insurance, Bajaj Allianz General Insurance, ICICI Lombard, Max Bupa and Liberty General Insurance are among insurers that have in-house claims processing teams.

The idea of having a TPA was to ensure that when there is a spike in the volume of claims, the processing can be managed by an external party that could guide the customer on the claims process. However, industry sources said that the rise in claims settlement timelines has led to greater reliance on the in-house team. The idea here is to slowly reduce the reliance on TPAs and build in-house teams to help settle health claims.

Moneycontrol looks at how an in-house claims processing team works and how different it is from a TPA:

Claims intimation to the TPA

A policyholder has to contact a TPA to submit a health insurance claim. The details of the TPA are mentioned in the policy documents given to the customer. In the case of hospitalisation or diagnosis of a health ailment, the TPA has to be informed first.

The TPA then passes on the claim information to the insurance company. This process could take time since this is an external company handling thousands of claims on behalf of multiple insurers.

In comparison, an in-house team is able to pass on the claim information immediately and expedite the claims settlement process.

Submission of documents

Once a claim is submitted to a TPA, the policyholder is required to submit a slew of documents, including the medical bills, hospital discharge certificate and bill, pharmacy receipts, X-Ray reports (if any) as well as doctor prescriptions.

Sometimes, if one or two documents are missing the external TPA has to first contact the insurance company to check whether the claim is payable without the said document. In comparison, an in-house team’s turnaround time is quicker and ensures that documents are submitted on time for claims settlement.

Approval of claim

There is a misconception among customers that the TPA can accept or reject a claim. However, the insurance regulator’s rules state that a TPA is only involved in processing a claim and is not allowed to make any approval-related judgement.

So, once a policyholder has submitted all the claims to an external TPA, this entity has to contact the claims department of the concerned insurer to verify if approval has been granted. This could take about 7-10 days depending on the type of claim and claim size. In comparison, an in-house team would be able to make an approval decision within a week.

Settlement of claims

Whatever be the size of the health insurance claim, only the insurance company can decide what part of the claim is payable and what isn’t. For instance, consumables such as gloves, PPE kits, masks, sanitisers and cotton, which are provided for one-time use, are not typically covered by health insurance policies.

Similarly, any personal expenses incurred in the hospital, including telephone/internet charges or special food and supplements, are also not payable under standard health insurance products. This means that even if these items are filed under claims, the amount will be excluded from payment.

An in-house processing team is able to clearly explain which expenses under health insurance are payable and which ones are not. This is because they are internal company experts. Sometimes an expense covered under a policy’s terms may be inadvertently excluded. In such instances, an in-house team would be able to resolve the discrepancy quickly.

In comparison, a TPA has to first check with the insurance company as to why a particular claim component has been excluded from the final settlement. Customer complaints with respect to exclusions in the settlement amount also take time to be resolved.

At a time when there have been 2.2 million confirmed Covid-19 cases in India, with over 6,00,000 active cases currently, settling health insurance claims through an in-house claims-processing team could prove beneficial for customers.

But it may not be feasible for the industry to take out TPAs immediately. Industry sources are of the view that a phased exit of the model, wherein internal teams will be strengthened to handle claim volumes, is the way forward.

Banks have put student loans on the last bench and yet overall disbursal of such loans is rising. Here’s why

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Saptarshi Mukherjee had planned to attend a computer science programme at a California-based educational institute in 2019. The course fee was approximately Rs 40 lakh a year but Mukherjee presumed it wouldn’t be tough to secure an education loan for a programme in the US. He was mistaken. Three banks — two public sector banks and one private bank — rejected his application as his family lived in rented accommodation.

Ashna Sharif, now pursuing an architecture postgraduate course in London, said that two banks — one public sector and one private — had raised questions about her failing one year during her degree programme, which was due to her falling ill, and rejected her loan request.

With the financial position of Indians worsening amidst the pandemic, hopes of students getting a bank loan are turning bleak. So, many candidates are now pursuing other options to raise funds.

Saptarshi Mukherjee’s father finally decided to take a Rs 25 lakh personal loan from a non-banking financial company at a 13 percent interest rate. The rest came from their personal savings and hypothecation of gold jewellery. “We had kept aside a Rs 7 lakh corpus for medical emergencies, which has now been used for Saptarshi’s education,” said his father Badrinath Mukherjee.

Ashna Sharif’s parents took a gold loan since the banks were in no mood to lend. “It is almost as if they are looking for an excuse to reject the loan application,” she told Moneycontrol. The family took a Rs 15 lakh gold loan at an interest rate of almost 12 percent. The hope is that she will be able to find employment by 2021 and repay the amount.

On the back bench

Reserve Bank of India (RBI) data on sectoral deployment of bank credit shows that there has been an 8.43 percent decline in education loan disbursal (excluding priority sector lending) as of June 2020 to Rs 65,017 crore, compared to the highest level of Rs 71,000 crore, in November 2016. This is a year on year decline of Rs 2,583 crore or 3.8 percent.

RBI data for sectoral deployment of bank credit shows the exact quantum of loans given by these institutions to various sectors. Here, loans for educational purposes have seen a consistent decline and have now flattened to around Rs 65,000 crore.

Edu loan RBI

For students this is tough because specialised higher education programmes in India and any course abroad cost upwards of Rs 10 lakh.

With banks out of the reckoning, students and their families are turning to other financial institutions, gold loans, dipping into the retirement corpus, part-time jobs and crowdfunding.

Pritam Saxena, from Gwalior, was able to raise Rs 2 lakh for his sister Anchal’s hotel management course within four weeks through on online platform. He said that the family did not have any collateral to place for a bank loan and hence they were forced to take this option.

Ramesh Srinivasan, from Chennai, who will be flying to Italy to pursue a course in Design in 2021, has started working to build a corpus of Rs 20 lakh, which he will require immediately. “Based on my interaction with the alumni, I have shortlisted two part-time jobs which will help me pay the mess fees. I have applied for a 40 percent scholarship and in case that doesn’t work out, I will start doing freelance jobs on website development, in which I have some experience,” he added.

Rise in delinquency

While there has been no decline in the number of students pursuing higher education and specialised programmes, banks are wary of the dwindling employment prospects of students and hence the rise in defaults.

“We have seen a rise in delinquencies by students and hence loan disbursal has been very selective. There is a consensus among bankers that loans should be restricted to the top institutes that have a good track record for employment,” said the general manager of a mid-sized public sector bank.

While industry data for FY20 are not available, banking sources said that education sector NPAs stayed close to 8.3 percent for the quarter ended March 2020. This is an almost 100-basis-point jump since March 2017.  

And yet, while banks are going cautious, overall education loan disbursals have increased. Data from CRIF High Mark showed that the education loan book, which includes banks, NBFCs and other financial institutions, stood at Rs 92,711 crore at the end of March 2020. The figure at the end of FY19 was Rs 90,345 crore.

There has also been an increase in the average ticket size of education loans, from Rs 3.94 lakh in FY19 to Rs 4.31 lakh in FY20.

However, there has also been a rise in delinquency or delays in payment of the loan interest. CRIF High Mark data showed that 7.19 percent was the delinquency beyond 360 days at the end of FY20. This meant that 7.19 percent of the education loan book had seen payment delays of one year and above.

This delinquency rate stood at 5.86 percent in the year-ago period, CRIF High Mark data showed.

“Since May-June 2019, we have seen a rise in payment delays by education loan customers. This is making it riskier to lend to this segment,” said the head of personal loans at a private bank.

A rise in delinquencies has also led to banks to seek more documentation and detailed academic records, which has played a dampener for students.

Other lenders step in

With banks not viewing education loans as an attractive segment, customers are gravitating towards other financial institutions.

Amit Gainda, Chief Executive Officer, Avanse Financial Services, told Moneycontrol that education is an essential spend in every household.

“Avanse Financial Services takes a student-centric approach rather than depending only on the co-borrowers’ financial background. As a part of this approach, we evaluate the student’s profile: past academic performance, entrance test scores, university/institute ranking and course selection,” said Gainda.

Gainda added that through this approach, the company is able to assess the employment potential of the student.

Student aspiring to study at an Indian Institute of Management or Indian Institute of Technology will be easier to secure an education loan from a bank. However, a traditional bank would be unwilling to provide a loan for unconventional courses like music, animation or photography.

That is where players such as Avanse Financial Services come into the picture. Gainda said the company lends to students pursuing both traditional and non-traditional programmes.

With loan moratoriums being granted amidst the pandemic and students defaulting due to no placements in 2020, it is unlikely banks will return to lending aggressively to the education sector. More and more students may therefore have to explore non-bank funding options.

Gujarat top tax-compliant region in India, Bihar comes last

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Gujarat has become the highest tax-compliant state in the assessment year 2018-19, behind only Delhi, in terms of the proportion of ‘returns filed to PAN holders’, while Bihar saw the lowest rate of Income Tax Return (ITR) filing.

In AY19, the state witnessed 22.3 percent ITR filers, out of the total Permanent Account Number

The state was followed by the national capital, which had a 20.5 percent population filing ITR. Behind Delhi were Punjab with 16.74 percent, and Telangana with 16.68 percent ITR filing, said the report.

As per the report, Bihar received the lowest rate of ITR filing at 5 percent. Its neighbouring state Uttar Pradesh saw a little higher rate of return filed at 8.11 percent. However, it was much below the national average of 12 percent, it stated.The data of ITR filings may not be the most accurate indicator of tax-compliance, as it is not mandatory for all PAN holders to file returns, said the report.

In the case of companies and businesses, they are supposed to file ITRs even in case of ‘nil’ income. However, this is not applicable to individuals as only those with total income above Rs 2.5 lakh are required to file returns. For senior citizens, the limit is Rs 3 lakh, the report suggested.

Among the total filed ITRs in AY19, the cases picked up for scrutiny halved to 0.25 percent from 0.55 percent in AY18. Among all the states, Bihar had the lowest proportion of such cases at 0.08 percent. The state saw a sharp drop from the 0.42 percent in AY18, said the report.

Its neighbouring state Jharkhand was next at 0.09 percent cases picked up for scrutiny in AY19. It saw a decline from 0.3 percent in AY18, the report stated.

Delhi faced the highest scrutiny of cases at 0.52 percent, added the report.

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