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Disclosure of tax returns, inherited property compulsory: EC

New Delhi: Furnishing of income tax returns has been made mandatory for all candidates entering the poll fray and details of inherited property will also have to be provided under a new nomination affidavit brought out by the Election Commission.

Candidates will now have to fill a six-page affidavit along with his or her nomination papers before the returning officer.

The I-T returns and details of properties of the spouse and all the "dependents" of the candidates will also have to be furnished in the new affidavit.

The new measures, according to sources, have been taken by the EC in consultation with the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) in order to curb the use of blackmoney and illegal wealth in the electoral process.

According to the new affidavit, the candidate has to furnish details of the "financial year for which the last I-T return has been filed and the total income shown in the (same) I-T return".

The candidate will also have to furnish the clause of "inheritance" in terms of immovable property categorised as agricultural land, non-agricultural land, commercial buildings and residential buildings.

The `approximate current market value` of such a property will also have to be provided in the new affidavit.

The other features, in the new affidavit, in relation to criminal background, assets, liabilities and educational qualifications of the candidates, are more or less same as earlier.

"Based on the experience since then, the Commission has made some modifications in the format of the affidavit for better and more effective dissemination of information to the electors about the background of the candidates," the EC said in it`s letter to all recognised political parties and Chief Electoral Officers of all states and Union Territories.

The EC had last year activated an Election Expenditure Monitoring (EEM) cell at the headquarters here to curb the use of illegal money with a senior IRS (Income Tax) officer at the helm.

CEC Quraishi had recently made a strong pitch for providing tax benefits on donations only to those political parties, which prove their strength at the hustings, on the ground that exemptions on such funds have led to the mushrooming of several new parties.

Observing that almost 75 to 80 per cent of registered political parties have not participated in any elections for the last several years, the CEC said that although the Commission has power to register political parties, it does not have the power to de-register them.

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