The Central government issued a notification making it mandatory for candidates to declare total income as shown in their Income-Tax Returns (ITR) for the last five years, and that of their spouses, dependents and the Hindu Undivided Family (HUF), as recommended by the Election Commission.
The notification states that changes have been made to the Form-26 affidavit, which is submitted with the nomination paper, in consultation with the Election Commission. From now on, candidates will also have to provide their Permanent Account Number (PAN).
The Commission had suggested the changes following a recent meeting with the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) on various issues, including the recommendation for making public the income verification report of the candidates. After the ITR papers become part of the affidavit, the information will be in the public domain.
Since 2013, the Income-Tax Department has been verifying the asset declaration made by candidates in their affidavits. However, the verification reports were not being made public.
Although CBDT’s verification reports are not public (EC and CBDT are working on a format for public disclosure), details of a candidate’s income, especially a Lok Sabha MP’s income, over last five years will be accessible to all since Form 26 is a public document, said sources.