The Election Commission will soon ask the income tax department for details of contributions to political parties ranging between 2,000 and 20,000 to supplement the records furnished by these parties as part of their annual audited accounts and contribution reports.

Commission sources told TOI that the details are being sourced from the I-T department as the government, having amended the Income-Tax Act last year to lower the cash limit for donations to parties to 2,000, is yet to amend Section 29 (C) of the Representation of the People Act to revise the threshold for parties to declare contributions to EC to 2,000 from the existing 20,000.

"Since parties are not required to declare donations in this range to EC, for which we have incidentally sought a suitable amendment in RP Act, the only option is to source the said information from I-T department. The I-T department, like always, will be sharing the relevant records with us," a commission functionary said.

The EC will also match the total funding received by parties through electoral bonds, as declared in their annual audited accounts, with the total value of bonds sold by banks in the relevant period, top sources in the poll panel told TOI.

According to an officer, with almost all parties having submitted their annual audited accounts for 2017-18 to the EC, the latter will now analyze the income declared by various political parties from electoral bonds. The income via electoral bonds of all parties will be aggregated and matched with the value of bonds sold by banks in that financial year. "The purpose is to account for the electoral bonds issued by banks," the EC functionary said.

The verification exercise will for now cover the first tranche of electoral bonds issued between March 1 and 10, 2018. Bonds worth 222 crore were declared as sold by banks during this period. The poll panel will analyze the parties' annual audited accounts for 2017-18 to track their income from bonds and tally it with value of bonds sold in the first tranche. "If it does match, all electoral bonds issued would have been accounted for to the satisfaction of EC," said a commission official.

As per amendments in RP Act effected last year, political parties were exempted from disclosing individual donations received through electoral bonds. However, as per I-T Act requirements, they must declare the total income from electoral bonds in their annual audited accounts to qualify for tax exemption.

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