No coercive steps against Cong amid polls: I-T dept

The Income Tax department on Monday informed the Supreme Court that it will not take any coercive action to recover Rs 3,567 crore from Congress party during the Lok Sabha elections.

The department urged the court to reschedule the hearing for June and emphasized its commitment to avoiding disruptions for any political party during the electoral process.

Considering the demand, the court listed the matter for July 24, 2024.

Mounting troubles for Congress

In mounting trouble for the Congress, the party said it has received notices from the Income Tax department, raising a tax demand of Rs 1,745 crore for the assessment years 2014-15 to 2016-17. With this latest notice, the Income Tax department has raised a total demand of Rs 3,567 crore from the Congress.

According to PTI sources, the fresh tax notices relate to 2014-15 (Rs 663 crore), 2015-16 (around Rs 664 crore) and 2016-17 (around Rs 417 crore). The authorities have ended the tax exemption available to political parties and have taxed the party for the entire collections, they added.

The Congress has also been taxed for “third-party entries” made in diaries seized from some of its leaders by probe agencies during raids, the sources said.

The party on Friday said that it has received notices from the I-T department, asking it to pay around Rs 1,823 crore. The tax authorities have already withdrawn Rs 135 crore from the party’s accounts for a tax demand relating to previous years.

The Congress has moved the court against the Rs 135-crore tax demand and the case is likely to come up before the Supreme Court on Monday. The party has failed to get any relief from the High Court of the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal in this regard.

Congress leaders have contended that similar third-party entries naming BJP leaders in other diaries have not been levied any tax. They have accused the BJP of indulging in “tax terrorism” and financially crippling the principal opposition party during the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

By doing so, they are disturbing the level playing field during elections, the Congress has alleged. It has also complained to the Election Commission in this regard and urged it to maintain a level playing field.

(With inputs from agencies)

William Murphy

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