December 17, 2016 8:53:25 pm
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Saturday rejected media reports as ‘false and misleading’ on the income tax exemption to political parties. In a statement to the media, Jaitley said, “Political parties have not been granted any exemption or privilege, post demonetisation and introduction of Taxation Amendment Act, 2016. I reiterate that Govt has not made any change regarding the regime and has not contemplated on the same,” he said.
He further added: “In the last two and half years that this government has been in power, legal and taxation regime with regard to political parties remains what it existed for the last 15-20 years. In this era of instant outrage, a 35 year-old-law is presented as a new law being passed by the NDA Government. I implore all journalist friends to be fully outraged against any step of the Government, if it is not against corruption. But in equal measure, I would also implore them to do adequate research before jumping the gun.”
Jaitley categorically said there is no question of sparing anyone, and the political class is no exception. “In fact PM Modi is setting a new example of propriety in public life, by asking all MPs & MLAs of BJP to submit their bank account details post demonetization. We would like to urge the other parties to do the same and prove their intentions against corruption,” he said.
Political parties enjoy no immunity whatsoever, said Jaitley, adding that “If there is any discrepancy in the books or records of political parties, they are as liable to be questioned by the Income Tax authorities as is anyone else. They enjoy no immunity whatsoever.”
The clarification from the finance minister comes a day after Finance Secretary Ashok Lavasa had announced that political parties are exempted under Income Tax law to deposit old currency notes in their bank accounts. The decision effectively means that political parties will not come under any scrutiny for cash deposits in old currency notes into their accounts.
“Tax exemption on deposits by political parties subject to individual donations not exceeding Rs 20,000 in cash and with proper receipt,” Lavasa had told reporters on Friday.
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