Cong cries foul over bank accounts freeze but gets no relief; are its ‘hands clean’ on tax dues?

New Delhi, March 30 : Rattled by the notices from the Income Tax (I-T) Department, the Congress has raised hue and cry over the freezing of its bank accounts and accused the BJP-led government of targeting its coffers ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.

However, its repeated failures in getting tax relief from concerned bodies and now, “disclosures” that its “hands are not clean” on the tax front have put the party in an embarrassing position.

Congress’ top brass alleges that its bank balances are being squeezed to stifle its election campaign. Also, the party claims that a coordinated campaign with the blessings of the BJP government is underway to financially cripple it and make it a “handicap”.

However, some disclosures about Congress’ dealings with the tax department put it in an indefensible position. The rejections of its pleas, first in the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal (ITAT) and then in the High Court, have done it no good in furthering its case against the I-T Department.

Akhilesh Mishra, the CEO of BlueKraft Digital Foundation, on Saturday took to X and claimed that Congress resorted to illegal means in funds collection and its cash receipts are the reason behind the party getting into tax imbroglio.

He said that the income tax searches in April 2019 found that the party received funds in cash, the receipts of which amount to Rs 626 crore (2013-14 to 2019).

“These cash receipts have been established and corroborated in multiple ways (documents found during search, WhatsApp messages, statements recorded, etc),” he said while claiming that Megha Engineering and Kamalnath were big ‘donors’ to the party.

On Congress’ claims of excesses by the I-T Department (parties remain exempt from paying taxes), he said that the party lost its exemptions because it failed to comply with Section 13A of the Income Tax Act.

“Under Section 13A of the Income Tax Act, income received by a political party is exempt if a number of conditions are met: this includes not accepting any amount more than Rs. 2,000 by cash,” he pointed out.

“The reason that the Congress is unable to get any kind of stay from the various judicial bodies is that the I-T Department has produced in courts detailed, corroborated evidence that is on record,” he added.

He further said that the party may keep complaining about ‘tax assault’ but it “will not put on record its entire assessment orders before the public because it will expose its own assertions”.

Earlier in the day, BJP Rajya Sabha MP Lahar Singh Siroya posed two “commonsensical” questions to deflate Congress’ charge on ‘tax terrorism’ and also shared that the party seeing red over I-T notices is not new.

He asked: “Why is it that you (Congress) want to file a revised return of your income? Why is the IT Department or the tribunal and court not allowing this? Have the rules been newly manufactured to work against you or are they rules that are common to everybody?”

“Were there any funds that were not declared by the Congress and were discovered during raids of party individuals? Do you want to now conveniently show, retrospectively, as belonging to the party to make it tax-free? Is this why you want to desperately revise your tax returns?” he added.

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