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Now, I-T lens on poll candidates

Ranchi, Dec. 8: The income tax (I-T) department will soon bring all candidates contesting Assembly and Lok Sabha elections under its scanner and examine their affidavits related to immovable and movable property in an attempt to curb corruption in high places.

“There is no law that prohibits the I-T department from initiating a survey of affidavits filed by candidates before elections. All cases of high increase in net wealth of politicians will be looked into on a regular basis. There is also an urgent need to expand the tax net under the wealth tax provisions,” K.K. Sinha, chief commissioner (I-T), Ranchi, told The Telegraph.

The Election Commission of India has made it mandatory for all politicians contesting Assembly or parliamentary elections to submit affidavits under oath before returning officers of their respective constituencies at the time of filing nominations.

Through the affidavit, a candidate is expected to disclose details of moveable and immovable assets held by him in his own name and in the names of his spouse and dependants, details of liabilities, pending court cases etc.

Also, the candidate is required to give details of his permanent account number (PAN) and status of I-T returns filed by him and his spouse and dependants.

“Income tax surveys are being conducted on a regular basis. All high value transactions are being closely monitored. The department is even tapping into a large segment of assesses who do not file their I-T returns annually. In the current year, we have issued more than 50,000 notices to various categories of assesses. We will now look into the hitherto untapped area, including affidavits filed by candidates, to expand the tax base,” Sinha stressed.

The move comes against the backdrop of recent I-T raids at 28 residents and establishments of state BJP spokesperson Amarpreet Singh Kale in Jamshedpur, Calcutta, Delhi and Gurgaon.

Following the raids, I-T sleuths came up with a rich haul of immovable property worth several hundred crores of Rupees, 300 commercial vehicles, numerous bank lockers and several dozen bank accounts from these locations, putting Kale, a close aide of former chief minister Arjun Munda, under the scanner.

“Compared to other parts of the country, tax collection in Jharkhand has not grown in quantitative and qualitative terms. Poor law and order situation and extremism, particularly in rural areas, act as a hindrance in the way of expanding the tax base and boost revenue collections,” the chief commissioner (I-T) said.

He added, “We fixed a tax collection target of Rs 3,561 crore for the current fiscal, and we have already achieved 52 per cent. However, we need to bring in newer areas under the I-T scanner.”

He conceded that real estate was one of the major avenues where ill-gotten wealth was being diverted. To curb illegal investments in this sector, the department has sought from the state land registration office details of all sale and purchase of plots valued over Rs 50 lakh. Farmland, though, has been exempted.

A newly introduced section in the Income Tax Act (194-IA) makes it mandatory for buyers and sellers of land to disclose their PANs.

Under this section, one per cent of the price paid by the buyer of an immovable property, is to be deducted as tax at source. Where the seller does not have a PAN, the rate of tax would be 20 per cent.

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