In the Supreme Court of India alone, joked Prime Minister Narendra Modi at a Times Now event on Wednesday, there would be more than 2,200 people earning more than one Crore Rupees per annum. But, he claimed, that is the number of ‘professionals’ in the country who have declared an income above one Crore.
People were quick to question the figure, pointing out that in the Assessment Year 2018-19, as many as 97,689 people had declared annual income of one Crore Rupees and above. BJP IT Cell chief jumped into the fray and pointed out that Pm Modi was only talking about self-employed ‘professionals’ like doctors, lawyers, chartered accountants and actors others.
He, however, conceded that the misunderstanding may have been caused by BJP’s official twitter handle, which had failed to mention ‘professionals’ and gave the impression that the PM mentioned the figure as general tax payers.
The explanation, however, has done little to clear the air. Not only is it not clear how and from where the PM arrived at this figure of 2,200 ‘professionals’ but he also mentioned two other equally problematic figures.
· The PM in his address said that only 1.5 Crore Indians ( 15 million) paid Income Tax and that
· Only three lakh of them declared an annual income of ₹50 lakh or above.
In fact official records suggest that 5.52 Crore Indians filed IT Returns for Assessment Year 2018-19; but while 2.9 Crore of them paid Income Tax, the rest ( 2.62 Crore) didn’t. There are also others who pay tax deducted at source but do not file IT Returns.
Others pointed out that out of 1.3 billion Indians, only 570 million (57 Crore) are in the tax-paying age. There are 37 zero balance Jan Dhan bank accounts and 17 Crore identified as economically weak , which would indicate that these people do not have the capacity to pay any income tax. Around one Crore Indians would be earning less than four lakhs of Rupees per annum.
Even as the controversy raged, the PM was quoted as saying, “ “In a country of over 130 crore people, only 1.5 crore people pay income tax. Even among them only 3 lakh people declare their income as that above 50 lakhs. You will be shocked to hear that, in our country, where there are countless professionals, doctors, engineers, charted accountants, Bollywood artists, lawyers, and today when even tier 2 and tier 3 cities are full of such professionals, only 2200 have declared their annual income to be above Rs 1 crore.”