WHILE trying to convince people to fulfil their civic duty of filing their income tax returns, I am often confronted with counterarguments. People suggest that the Inland Revenue Service (IRS) should not be bothered about filing of income tax returns if tax has already been paid through deduction by employers or other means.

I do not blame people who come up with the argument because even the most educated class in our country is tax illiterate.

An income tax return is a document filed with the IRS, encompassing the following details about your earnings and spending: income, profit or losses, tax already paid, refund claims or tax liabilities calculated, wealth and expenses, etc (in the form of wealth statement in case of individuals).

Filing income tax returns is totally hassle-free these days. The government’s objective is to ensure payment of taxes but this does not end here. Returns form a crucial part of tax payments. It is your constitutional obligation to file returns. It helps the IRS document your income and losses, and taxes paid thereupon.

Have you accrued losses in your business? You could set them off against income for the next year. While buying immoveable property you are required to pay an extra percentage of tax if you are a non-filer. If you do not file returns, you will have to pay an additional tax if you are buying a new car.

You are required to pay a certain percentage of tax at the time of the sale of any instrument, including demand draft, pay order, special deposit receipt, cash deposit receipt, short term deposit receipt, call deposit receipt, rupee traveller’s cheque or any other instrument of such nature to the bank concerned, in case you are a non-filer.

You may be sure that your employer is deducting tax on your salary but are you sure the tax so deducted is being deposited in the government treasury? If your employer did not deposit this tax into the national kitty, he will be caught and probed into it.

Amna Tariq Shah
Deputy Commissioner, Inland Revenue, FBR
Islamabad

Published in Dawn, December 12th, 2016

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