Tax exempt income of political parties nearly Rs. 2,500 crore
As per information provided in response to an application filed under the Right to Information (RTI) Act by the Income Tax department, the tax-exempted income of the 10 main political parties in the last five years touched nearly Rs. 2,500 crore. This figure does not include the income / donations to the political parties below Rs. 20,000/-. Under section 13 A of Income Tax Act, 1961, the political parties are exempt from tax on their income if they maintain a book of account for donations or income above Rs. 20,000/-. Between 2007-08 and 2011-12, the income of the political parties which is exempt from tax includes:
- Congress - Rs 1385 crore.
- BJP - Rs 682 crore.
- JDU - Rs 15.5 crore.
- BSP - Rs 147 crore in three financial years 2007-08, 2008-09 and 2011-12. The return in 2009-10 was incomplete while no tax-exempt income was claimed in 2010-11.
- NCP - Rs 141 crore.
- CPI (M) - Rs 85.61 crore in four years, while it had nil income in 2008-09.
- CPI's - Rs 28.47 crore in 2008-09 and 2009-10.
- LJP - Rs 2.55 crore in four years between 2007 and 2011.
- RJD - Rs 2.85 crore in three years between 2008 and 2011.
- JD(S) - Rs 7.16 crore in 2009-10 and 2010-11.
The appeal to bring the political parties under the Right to Information Act is pending before the Central Information Commission (CIC). The CIC is yet to ascertain whether there is substantial direct and indirect funding from the government which bring the political parties under the definition of the public authority as per the RTI Act, 2005.