When it comes to political parties filing their returns before the income tax, the details are usually treated as the gospel. It is rare that there an occasion when returns filed by political parties are actually taken up for scrutiny, according to the Association for Democratic Reforms.

Which is why the hawk-eyed vigil being kept on the Aam Aadmi Party and its tax records should come as a surprise. Or perhaps not.

In fact, tax officials say the number of cases taken up for scrutiny varies between 0.001 per cent to 0.004 per cent, as per the ADR. In the past 10 years, apart from the AAP the only other party that has faced the taxman is the Nationalist Congress Party.

The NCP's returns for FY 2006-07 were taken up for scrutiny because the party's books declared nil income for that fiscal. The litigation dragged on endlessly for the NCP and the assessment order that finally came admitted that the party's returns were in order, recalls Laxmi Sriram, programmer at the ADR.

What the NCP could perhaps have in common with the AAP is that is that both had fallen out with the Centre.

While AAP's relations with the Modi government are well documented, the NCP's tax notice was a secret that the party never made public. The fact that it was a UPA ally did not really matter to the taxman.

Pawar's handling of the wheat crisis and the Maharashtra political crisis amongst other issues had strained relations to breaking point, enough to put the tax man on the Maratha's tail.

Which is why a tax notice to the AAP is now passe. In the latest offensive the Income Tax Department has served a Rs 30.67 crore tax notice to the party.

The notice also mentions that the AAP had not disclosed income worth Rs 13.16 crore. The notice says the party's total taxable income was Rs 68.44 crore for the financial years 2014-15 and 2015-16.

The I-T Department also says that the money received as donations in its bank account was not recorded in the books of accounts of the party.

The notice says the AAP had also not recorded full details of at least 461 donors who had donated Rs 6.26 crore, each donation amount exceeding Rs 20,000.

The tax department says the AAP had not disclosed donation of Rs 36.95 crore on its website and the party had failed to respond to 34 opportunities given to it.

The ADR says as opposed to a political party, the figure for scrutiny of all assessees across the country for other categories is 0.01 per cent, a clear indication that the tax department puts more faith in the rulers then the ruled.

"There are several political parties that never file their returns or even put up the details of donations received on their website. In fact, even for those who file their returns with the income tax and the Election Commission, all that the authorities insist is that the paperwork should be in order. The content of what the documents contain doesn't matter as long as the returns are filed," admits Sriram.

The ADR too only does an analysis of what is filed or declared by the political parties before the government. And what is declared voluntarily too is usually riddled with holes.

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