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FBR to withdraw tax exemptions worth Rs 500bn

* Will go after tax-evaders, using information obtained from their transactions

ISLAMABAD: The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) plans to withdraw most of the Rs 500 billion tax exemptions in the next financial year, 2014-15. 
The FBR has also formulated a broadening of tax base strategy to go after the tax-evaders by using information obtained from their transactions in the real estate sector, purchase of vehicles, foreign travels and also by accessing, in the long run, their bank accounts to assess the extent of tax avoidance and tax evasion, Shahid Hussain Asad, Member (Inland Revenue) Policy said on Tuesday.
A group of 17th Mid Career Management Course has visited FBR here today the 06th May 2014, headed by Acting Director General / Chief Instructor, National Institute of Management, Quetta Mr. Nazar Mohammad Kakar. Ms. Riffat Shaheen Qazi, Member FATE, FBR, welcomed the visiting officers and briefly told them about the mandate, working and performance of the FBR. She said FBR being the sole institution responsible for resource mobilization and revenue generation faced a difficult task of collecting tax revenue but the strenuous and dedicated efforts of the officers and workforce of FBR were helping broaden the tax net.
Shahid Hussain Asad, Member (Inland Revenue) Policy, FBR, while briefing the group of visiting officers currently attending Mid-Career Management Course (MCMC) at the National Institute of Management (NIM) Quetta said that Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has planned to take away most of the Rs 500 billion tax exemptions from the next financial year which is also going be a difficult year for those potential taxpayers who have not obtained NTN and also those who have an NTN but never file their returns.
“We have long relied on the universal self assessment scheme believing in the income figures and subsequent tax returns filed by the taxpayers but now is the time to judge the value of these returns on the basis of expenditure incurred by the people on maintaining their social status and lifestyle,” said Mr. Shahid Hussain Asad. Earlier responding to queries from the visiting officers, Member (IR) Policy, FBR, Mr. Shahid Hussain Asad said FBR had formulated a strategy to go after the tax-evaders by using information obtained from their transactions in the real estate sector, purchase of vehicles, foreign travels and also by accessing, in the long run, their bank accounts to assess the extent of tax avoidance and tax evasion.
To a question, he said FBR had been able to collect Rs 1743 billion revenue by the end of April and efforts were on to meet the annual revenue collection target of Rs 2345 billion. ‘We are confident we would be able to meet the target as most of the large collections are made towards the end of the financial year,” he said. Later, Bakhtiar Muhammad, Chief Facilitation & Taxpayer Education (FATE), FBR, gave a detailed presentation on the working and performance of FBR in broadening the tax net and enhancing the tax-to-GDP ratio. 
He said the share of people filing their tax returns in Pakistan’s population was merely 1.6 per cent as compared to 4.7 per cent in India, 16.5 per cent in Argentina, 58 per cent in France and an impressive 80 per cent in Canada. “The presence of such a large number of tax-paying individuals in these countries has directly played a crucial role in sustaining their economies besides providing a financial cushion to their governments to divert massive funds to the development of social sector,” he said. Dr. Muhammad Zubair, Chief International Customs FBR, also shared with the officers various loopholes and weaknesses in the current taxation system and what measures were required to make the system more robust. He argued that for a robust taxation system, compliant taxpayers, independent tax authority, simplified tax laws & procedures and a vibrant tax machinery are essential. Similarly, a fair tax system should impose similar tax burdens on similarly situated individuals while tax burdens should also be proportional to an individual’s ability to pay tax, he added.

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