Congress leader and minister of Local Bodies, Tourism in the Punjab government Navjot Singh Sidhu’s, two bank accounts were sealed by the Income Tax department for not paying taxes. These outstanding dues as per reports amounted to Rs 54 lakh.
Sidhu, who earlier was with the BJP, had quit the party in September 2016. Later he was reported to have been heading towards AAP’s way for a while, before ultimately joining the Congress in January 2017.
This sealing was a result of Sidhu supposedly not presenting bills of expenditure shown in tax returns, which were filed for assessment year 2014-15. Sidhu thus was required to produce invoices for Rs 28.38 lakh towards dress expenses, travelling expenses of Rs 38.24 lakh, salary expense of Rs 47.11 lakh and fuel expenses of Rs 17.80 lakh.
As Sidhu had failed to provide bills with regards to the aforementioned expenses, the Income Tax department disallowed 30% of the revenue for preventing revenue leakage. Sidhu in response had appealed against this decision In January 2017, though the Commissioner of Income-tax (Appeals) didn’t provide any relief for Sidhu.
The Income Tax till date had issued three notices to Sidhu, following which this action was taken. Sidhu in his defence has claimed that he has been thoroughly filing his IT returns for the last 10 years, without defaulting.
Reports have now claimed that following the seizure of Sidhu’s two bank accounts, one in CITI bank at Connaught Place and one in Khan Market branch of HDFC, Sidhu relented in his fight and decided to pay all the tax dues.
The fact that a minister in the Punjab has possibly tried to evade taxes, might become a point of irony at a time when the same government has decided to heap a slew of taxes on its ordinary taxpayers, supposedly for funding its various public welfare schemes. These taxes include a proposed Rs 200 per month tax for Income Tax payers and various surcharges like up to Rs 2 cess on petrol, diesel, 1% on vehicle registration, 5% on electricity bills and 10% on excise duty.