Intervening in the debate on the Finance Bill 2008 in the Lok Sabha, he said there were about 97,000 taxpayers with an income of Rs 10 lakh per annum when the UPA government assumed office in 2004.
There number swelled to 1.77 lakh during the assessment year 2006-07, he said, adding "although the (latest) figures are not available, there number must have increased further during the assessment years 2007-08 and 2008-09".
Responding to the remarks of the CPI-M member Rupchand Pal that not enough people in the high-income bracket were declaring correct income, the Minister said that with economy growing at an average rate of 8.8 per cent, more people would enter the income bracket of more than Rs 10 lakh per annum and start paying taxes.
While welcoming the budget proposal to raise income tax slabs benefitting salaried class, women and senior citizens, Pal said the Finance Ministry should expedite computerisation of the tax department to check tax evasion.
Pointing out that about 13 lakh duplicate PAN cards were issued by the Income Tax Department, he said government should initiate steps to prevent misuse of such facilities.
Pal also wanted the Finance Ministry to scrutinize and check the practice of certain companies paying higher advance taxes with a view to creating false impression about their financial health among the investors.