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We Don’t Know What Does The Prime Minister Mean By Broadening Tax Base: FBR Officials

ISLAMABAD: Top Officials at the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) are at loss when it comes to the much-talked about broadening tax base in Pakistan.

“We hear daily from the Prime Minister Imran Khan that his government is focused on broadening the tax base but we are completely at loss how to actually materialise what the prime minister has been saying,” a senior official at the FBR told NayaDaur Media on the condition of anonymity.

“Making more people to file tax returns does not mean that more people are paying taxes. For broadening tax base, we have to tap new sectors or create new sources that generate wealth from which we can collect taxes,” the official added.

Two big sectors that can be a big source of tax collection are retail and services, but to bring them into tax net, Pakistan needs a huge tax machinery to keep check on them as all the transactions are done in cash, the FBR official said. Big landholders is another potential sector that needs to be tapped.

When it comes to tax collection or broadening the tax base, people generally and media in particular single out FBR but they wilfully or by their ignorance leave out the three other stakeholders which are taxpayers, courts and tax lawyers, another top tax official said.

“There are billions of tax money that is stuck because of litigation. Our judges are not literate in tax and financial matters resulting in lingering cases for years. Also the culture of ‘stay’ in Pakistan ruin tax litigation as judges grant stays on ridiculous grounds” he added.

A businessman from a big industrial group in Islamabad told NayaDaur Media that a week back he called FBR officials to brief them on the condition of collecting ID card copies from the buyers. They responded that they have yet to receive clear directives with regard to the policy of collecting ID card copies from the buyers who buy articles worth more than Rs 50,000.

“I told the tax officials that should I shut down my plant if the tax officials do not know about a policy announced in the federal budget? Believe me it’s a complete mess in the country at large and the tax machinery in particular,” the businessman said.-

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Zalmay Azad

The author is an Islamabad-based freelance journalist and contributes to different national and international papers and journals.

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