Users of social media have misquoted Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who said that merely 2,200 taxpayer professionals declared an income of more than ₹1 crores. These users are calling out Modi, citing data from the income tax department according to which 97,689 individuals have filed returns with a total income of more than ₹1 crore (in AY 18-19), leaving out the nuance in Modi's speech where he specifically referred to professionals. He was referring to professionals such as scientists, engineers, doctors, lawyers, actors and accountants. However, BOOM found that this misquote started with the Bharatiya Janta Party's (BJP's) own Twitter handle not mentioning the Prime Minister's statements correctly.
Modi made these comments at the first edition of the Times Now Summit on February 12, where he described the positive changes his administration made to overhaul the direct taxation system. Modi was also highlighting the diverging statistics of how the country has few formal taxpayers despite an unequal rise in sales in luxury cars and in people taking foreign holidays.
Examples of misquoted tweets can be found below from prominent journalists and from other users of social media.
An archived version of Rohini Singh's tweet can be found here.
Seeing 130 cr population - Income Tax think they can collect tax more & more by increasing the net. Only 1.5 cr people paying tax as per PM's speech. PM says only 2200 declared Rs. 1 cr & above to Income Tax. (This data not correct. 97,689 people declared above Rs 1 cr income) https://t.co/dWuh9lyDFm— J Gopikrishnan (@jgopikrishnan70) February 12, 2020
How unfortunate.. #PrimeMinister #NarendraModi telling LIES to fool Nation & ghetto world isn't good..— Prof Of Democracy (@Citizens4Human1) February 13, 2020
Truth is that According to data released by Income Tax department, 97,689 people declared income over Rs 1 crore in assessment year 2018-19. Not 2200 as the PM LIES https://t.co/kF2OBFiYp3
At Times Now event PM said only 2200 people show taxable income of Rs1 crore plus annually. Fact is 97,689 persons declared income of Rs.1 cr and above in 2018-19 AY. Such gaffes, also seen in past, represent chaotic governance at some deeper level! And this from strongest PMO!— M K Venu (@mkvenu1) February 13, 2020
More such results can be found here.
However, on further looking, BOOM found that most of these quotes were stemming from a tweet by the BJP's official Twitter handle, which itself has said that only 2,200 people (not professionals) have declared an above ₹1 crore.
In the last 5 years, over 1.5 crore high-end cars have been sold & over 3 crore Indians have gone abroad.— BJP (@BJP4India) February 12, 2020
Only 1.5 crore Indians pay taxes. Out of this, only 3 lakh people have declared their income over Rs 50 lakh & 2,200 people over Rs 1 crore.
It is shocking: PM Modi pic.twitter.com/ZTqoN05Bme
An archived version of the BJP's tweet can be viewed here.
To get to Modi's true comments, BOOM looked at his original speech speech which he made at the Times Now Summit, which can be viewed in the embedded video below.
Modi comments can be found below:
"There are a lot of professionals in out country, working in many spheres - scientists, engineers, doctors, lawyers, chartered accountants, all of Bollywood... there are many professionals, who are affluent in their own spheres. Nowadays, such big personalities can even be found in tier-2 and tier-3 cities, and they are serving the country in their own ways; and we are not undermining their contributions. But, it is also a truth that in a country so big, only 2,200 professionals are there who declare their yearly income to be more than ₹1 crores. Delhi's Supreme Court will have more people than this! ... only 2,200 in the full country! How does one believe this, with all the cars, foreign travel and children studying abroad? But just 2,200 [taxpayers]."
Just how many professionals have an income above ₹1 crore?
From the data published by the Income Tax Department, it is not immediately clear how many professionals are included in the income tax calculations, since the data does not include profession.
However, the Income Tax Department has clarified in an unexpectured gesture that in assessment year 18 - 19 about 2,200 professionals, including chartered accountants, doctors and lawyers have declared an income of more than ₹1 crore from their profession, excluding income from sources such as rent, interest and capital gains. The clarification can be viewed below.
In the ITRs filed by individuals in current financial year,only about 2200 Doctors,Chartered Accountants, Lawyers &such other professionals have disclosed annual income of more than Rs.1crore from their profession(excluding other incomes like rental,interest,capital gains etc)6/6— Income Tax India (@IncomeTaxIndia) February 13, 2020