I-T dept seeks Sachin's nod to disclose tax details

I-T dept seeks Sachin's nod to disclose tax details

I-T dept seeks Sachin's nod to disclose tax details

The Income Tax Department has sought the permission of Sachin Tendulkar, nominated to the Rajya Sabha as a sportsman, to disclose his I-T returns in response to an RTI query.

The RTI applicant is a lawyer who sought to know whether the cricket legend had claimed to be an actor to get tax exemptions.

Bengaluru-based Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) of I-T S Anjana wrote to Tendulkar on July 14 asking him to “make a submission” within 10 days if he has any objection to making public the information on his “declared profession” in the I-T Returns (ITRs). Even if he says no, the final decision rests with the tax department’s CPIO, explained I-T sources.

The Central Information Commission recently directed unwilling tax authorities to furnish details to Supreme Court lawyer Pranesh who had sought to know if Tendulkar filed his returns as an ‘actor’ or a ‘sportsman’.

He was nominated to the Upper House in 2012 and two years later was awarded the Bharat Ratna, taking into account his immense contribution to cricket. Prior to that, Tendulkar was allowed by an Income Tax Tribunal in Mumbai to ask for tax exemptions on the earnings he made through product endorsements.

In the ITR, an assessee has to mention his profession since different heads of income may attract different taxes. The assessee has to reveal the head under which income derived from various sources should be taxed.

Earlier, the department had refused to share Tendulkar’s ITR on the grounds that disclosure of “personal information” was barred from the RTI Act. Central Information Commissioner Basant Seth, however, overruled this after the applicant argued that Tendulkar, being an MP, was a public servant and his ITRs should be in public domain.

Seth quoted a Supreme Court judgement to order that personal information cannot be withheld if the CPIO is convinced that larger public interest justifies the disclosure.

Speaking to DH, advocate Pranesh validated his relentless quest to seek Tendulkar’s tax returns on the plea that “the nation should know what he has declared in the revenue records and the grounds on which he was nominated to the Rajya Sabha and bestowed the Bharat Ratna”. The lawyer’s contention is that his initial identity is that of a cricketer.

The lawyer had in the past filed an RTI with the Rashtrapati Bhavan Secretariat questioning the then United Progressive Alliance government’s decision to confer the highest civilian award on Tendulkar, who had been advertising for private companies.

The ace batsman’s rooting for products did not conform to “high standards and dignified conduct” of a member of the Rajya Sabha, he had protested. However, Parliament rules do not bar MPs from appearing in advertisements.

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