Income Tax Act Current Affairs - 2019
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In an affidavit filed before the Supreme Court, the Election Commission of India has made the following observations:
- Electoral bonds, contrary to government claims, wreck transparency in political funding.
- Electoral bonds coupled with the removal of the cap on foreign funding invites foreign corporate powers to impact Indian politics.
- Electoral bonds would cause a “serious impact” on transparency in the funding of political parties.
The Election Commission of India further criticises amendments made to various key statutes through the two consecutive Finance Acts of 2016 and 2017.
What were the amendments made?
The Finance Act of 2017 amends various laws, including the Representation of the People Act of 1951, the Income Tax Act and the Companies Act. The Finance Act of 2016 makes changes in the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act of 2010.
The amendment to Representation of the People Act allows political parties to skip recording donations received by them through electoral bonds in their contribution reports to the ECI.
The amendments introduced to the Income Tax Act allow anonymous donations. Donors to political parties are not required to provide their names, address or PAN if they have contributed less than Rs. 20,000. The Election Commission notes that many political parties have been reporting a major portion of the donations received as being less than the prescribed limit of Rs. 20,000.
The Finance Act of 2016 allowed donations to be received from foreign companies having a majority stake in Indian companies.
Observations by Election Commission
The Election Commission of India called these measures as a retrograde step and the ECI has no way to ascertain whether the donations were received illegally by the political party from government companies or foreign sources.
The Election commission also expressed concerns that these amendments would pump in black money for political funding through shell companies and allow unchecked foreign funding of political parties in India which could lead to Indian politics being influenced by foreign companies.
Tags: Black Money • Companies Act • ECI • Election Commission of India • Electoral bonds • Finance Act 2016 • Finance Act 2017 • Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act 2010. • Income Tax Act • PAN • Political Funding • Representation of the People Act 1951 • Shell Companies • Supreme Court
The Union Finance Ministry has constituted task force to review Income Tax (IT) Act 1961 and draft new direct tax law in consonance with current economic needs. CBDT member Arbind Modi will be convener of task force. Chief Economic Adviser Dr. Arvind Subramanian will be its permanent Special Invitee.
Terms of Reference of Task Force
Taskforce main mandate is to draft appropriate Direct Tax Legislation keeping in view direct tax system prevalent in various countries, international best practices. It will also take into consideration, economic needs of country and any other matter connected thereto.
During 2017 Rajaswa Gyan Sangam held in September, 2017, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had observed that IT Act, 1961 was drafted more than 50 years ago and it needs to be re-drafted. Rajaswa Gyan Sangam is an annual conference of senior tax administrators to enable two-way communication between policy-makers and senior officers in field offices with view to increase revenue collection and facilitate effective implementation of law and policies in key result areas.