Thirteen political parties, including the major ones, were given tax exemption on at least Rs. 2,490 crore in five years from 2007-2012.
The RTI response to a query by Hisar-based activist Ramesh Verma has revealed that of the income exempted from tax, the Congress with Rs. 1,385 crore and the BJP with Rs. 682 crore, made up more than 83% of the total.
Other parties - BSP, Samajwadi Party, CPI, NCP, Lok Jan Shakti Party, CPI (Marxist), RJD, JD (United), JD (Secular), All India Forward Bloc and the RLD - accounted for rest 17%.
Sources told HT that the total amount of exempted income would be much more as political parties do not file returns for amounts less than Rs. 20,000 - which are substantially large and are received as donations or party coupon sales.
Political parties are exempted from tax on their income through Section 13 A of IT Act 1961. The Central Information Commission has already indicated that it will seek a report from Income Tax department and Directorate of Estate regarding the tax exemptions.
Of a total of 1,396 registered political parties, just six national parties, 50 state parties besides another 10-12 have contested elections in the last two decades.
Strangely enough, the EC is helpless when it comes to deregistering a political party as there is no specific law and the EC cannot assume the power to deregister a party.