After 'gift' claim, CM may come under I-T dept 'watch'

After 'gift' claim, CM may come under I-T dept 'watch'

Chief Minister Siddaramaiah appears to have been caught on the wrong foot by claiming that the expensive wristwatch he used to wear till recently was a gift.

According to the Income Tax Act 1961, a person has to pay tax if he or she receives a gift costing more than Rs 50,000. However, tax exemption can be availed if the gift is from one of the family members.

Accordingly, Siddaramaiah has to prove whether he has paid the tax if the expensive watch was a gift from a friend or “somebody” else. If it is within the family, he must have the bill. Spouse, brothers and sisters of one’s parents, one’s lineal descendants (including spouse) and lineal descendants (including spouses) of one’s spouse come in the bracket of  family members according to the Income Tax Act.

Even if the gift is within the family, taxmen normally verify the source of money for the purchaser, official sources in the I-T department said.

JD(S) leader H D Kumaraswamy has been claiming that the chief minister’s watch was a diamond-studded Hublot costing a whopping Rs 60 lakh to Rs 70 lakh.

Besides, he charged that the chief minister’s sunglasses cost Rs 1.5 lakh and claimed that he had proof to substantiate his charges. But Siddaramaiah has been dismissing the charges as not true and offered to sell them to the JD(S) leader at Rs 5 lakh if he was ready to buy them.

Assets declaration

Besides, it is not clear whether Siddaramaiah has declared having received these expensive gifts in his affidavit of assets and liabilities before the Karnataka Lokayukta. Public servants have to file the affidavit every year according tothe Karnataka Lokayukta Act. And the chief minister has not revealed as to when he received the gifts. However, the details have not been made public.

More to come?

Sources in the JD(S) said the party would soon come out with more details as to when and who gifted the watch to Siddaramaiah.

According to rumours, along with the chief minister, two other politicians – a Cabinet minister and a confidant of Siddaramaiah – have also received similar watches from an industrialist.

The JD(S) had released a video clipping of Siddaramaiah sporting the watch when he visited former MP H Vishwanath at a hospital in Mysuru.

According to party sources, Siddaramaiah visited the hospital about 8 to 10 months ago. But the watch he offered to auction was a gold watch and not the diamond-studded watch.

Enquiries made by this newspaper at the Chief Minister’s Office said Siddaramaiah neither remembered who gifted him the watch nor its price.

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