On 23rd October, The Times of India in an article titled “Number of taxpayers up, but salaried still bear the brunt”, it claimed that out the total qualified chartered accountants, only one in three paid their income tax. Later, The Tribune, in its editorial titled “The income tax saga”, said, “Salaried people continue to pay tax even before they receive their paycheques, but the same is not true of professionals such as doctors, chartered accountants and lawyers. Some of them sometimes forget to pay tax.” This was followed by The Pioneer, where an opinion piece by Naveen Anand, put this up as a ‘curious fact’: Out of the 2.8 lakh chartered accountants, who advise companies and individuals on tax matters, only about one-third or one lakh paid taxes.
However, the reality is far from this. The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) in its letters to the editors has clarified that said data was misinterpreted by them. In its letters, the ICAI explains that the Income Tax Return (ITR) Statistics presented by the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has been presented on the basis of the type of income, type of taxpayers, etc. One such basis for analysis is “type of business” which includes data from various businesses like manufacturing sector, trade, professionals, etc.
The ICAI says that the said data is misinterpreted by the publication. The Times of India claimed that out of 2.8 lakh chartered accountants, about 1 lakh of them pay income tax.
The ICAI has clarified that out of total 2,69,350 members, 1,26,892 members have a certificate of practice (COP) and are either in full-time or part-time practice, i.e. their income from practice would be taxable under Income from Business and Profession head. Rest of the qualified chartered accountants are salaried, hence, their income would be taxed under the head Income from Salaries.
The ICAI clarifies that the 1,03,049 chartered accountant taxpayers mentioned by the Income Tax Department pertain to the chartered accountants who are in practice only. i.e. out of the 1,26,892 members, not the total 2,69,350.
That means, nearly 81 per cent of Chartered Accountants who are in practice and are earning income under the head business and profession are paying their taxes and not 1/3rd as mentioned by Times of India. The remaining 1,42,458 chartered accountants may have been included as individuals having a salary and/or other income.
The institute further clarified that out of the total 2,69,250 members, 2,45,507 chartered accountants have filed their income tax, i.e. nearly 91%. Of the total members, about 8,000 members are above the age of 70 years, who may or may not have filed their returns, depending on their age.
The institute further expresses disappointment at the newspapers for publishing their stories without verifying facts with the institute which has caused immense damage to the credentials of the CA profession.