The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) on Thursday said that only 5.78 crore people disclosed their income and just 1.46 crore people are to pay taxes the financial year 2018-19.

The CBDT clarified this in a series of tweets in response to certain misinformation circulating on social media pertaining to individual return filers. A debate had erupted on social media on Thursday after PM Narendra Modi said that a very small number out of 1.3 billion people in the country pay income tax.

Narendra Modi
India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi.Reuters

Income Tax Exemption:

"During the current financial year, 5.78 crore individuals filed return disclosing income of the financial year 2018-19," CBDT tweeted. Out of 5.78 crores returns filed during this financial year, 4.32 crore individuals have disclosed income up to Rs 5 lakh, it said in one of the tweets.

Since, under the Finance Act, 2019, the current income tax provision exempts individual taxpayers having income up to Rs 5 lakh, 4.32 crore individual taxpayers would not be liable to pay tax for the current financial year 2019-20.

Individuals paying taxes in FY2018-19:

"Around 1 crore individual disclosed income between Rs 5-10 lakh and only 46 lakh individual taxpayers have disclosed income Rs 10 lakh," CBDT said in the tweet.

Only 3.16 lakh individuals taxpayers have disclosed income more than Rs 50 lakh and only 2200 Doctors, Charted Accountants lawyers and other professionals have disclosed annual income of more than Rs 1 crore from their professions (excluding other incomes like rental, interest, capital gains, etc.), CBDT noted.

Income Tax India
Twitter/social media

This leaves only 1.46 crore individuals to pay taxes on their income.

PM Modi tax return comment:

In a media event on Wednesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a comment on the poor tax compliance in the country.

He said, "In the last five years more than 1.5 crore of expensive cars have been sold in India. More than 3 crores of Indians have travelled overseas for business or travel. Of the more than 130 crore population only 1.5 crore people pay income tax!"

"We have so many professionals - big doctors, lawyers, Charted accountants, etc. But only 2200 professionals declared their annual income of over Rs 1 crore," Modi had said.

The income tax department added that the number of taxpayers who have disclosed income above Rs 5 crore in the whole country is over around 8,600.