PAN-less candidates with over Rs 5 crore to face I-T scrutiny

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For the first time, candidates with assets of over Rs 5 crore without a PAN card are set to come under the scanner of Tax department and Election Commission, which have prepared a list of 'red flags' to weed out suspected tax-evaders from the poll fray.

This is part of a joint charter prepared by the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) and the Election Commission (EC) for scrutinising the poll affidavits of candidates contesting 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

Candidates declaring a jump of Rs 2 crore in value of their immovable assets since last polls would also trigger such red flags, pursuant to which further inspections would be carried out by the taxmen, a senior official said.

The two authorities have formulated five core parameters which will be used by the tax department to check affidavits of candidates from a suspected tax evasion angle. These would include checking veracity of the PAN cards of candidates.

"The Permanent Account Number (PAN) will be important when it comes to investigating a candidate's asset and income declarations in the poll affidavit.

"The CBDT has asked the EC to provide PAN details of as many candidates as possible as it is easy to check the financial antecedents of a person through this number," the official said.

The taxmen would check for fake PAN details by matching the same with the department's own database.

According to the joint blueprint, the I-T department will take up all "specific cases" referred to it by the poll body, including the cases showing any abnormal rise in wealth.

Under this mechanism, the I-T department will also compare the declarations made by the candidates in their poll affidavits with the income tax returns filed by them.

Besides, the I-T department will also further scrutinise cases of "gross understatements" of personal or family assets, as also those of liabilities, by the poll candidates.

A senior CBDT official said that a 'red flag' mechanism has been prepared jointly with the EC as the tax department does not have the wherewithal to scrutinise each and every case on its own.

The EC, over the last few years, has stressed extensively on curbing flow of black money and use of illicit inducements in the electoral process and it wants to ensure a level playing field by enforcing necessary checks and balances in this regard.

EC has also created an exclusive 'Election Expenditure Monitoring' cell of its own, while the Income Tax department's investigation and intelligence units have also been brought on-board to check illegal funds and huge cash flows during the elections.

The CBDT, the apex policy making body of the I-T department, recently said it would scrutinise asset and liability declarations of the top two candidates in each constituency after the announcement of poll results on May 16.

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