ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on Wednesday asked senior tax officials to register new taxpayers on the basis of computerised national identity card while urging the FBR to simplify tax return.
The demand came from the premier while addressing more than 50 top taxmen at the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) headquarters.
The tax officials had gathered in Islamabad to work out a strategy and discuss measures for achieving the revenue collection target for the current fiscal year.
Mr Abbasi has become the first prime minister in the recent past who visited the FBR and addressed tax officials directly, said Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Revenue Haroon Akhtar Khan.
He said the premier was invited to interact directly with FBR officials.
PM Abbasi was not happy with the current level of tax compliance in the country. “The addition of 5,000 or 10,000 people is not a performance,” the premier said, adding there is a potential of 8.5 million people who can be brought under the tax net easily.
Currently, only 1.2m people have filed their tax returns.
The premier asked FBR officials to use CNIC for tracing all individuals involved in various kinds of transactions including banking, utility services, buying and selling activities. He said notices should be issued to these people through use of technology and cooperation of Nadra.
The prime minister said that it was now an easy task to trace such people who buy new cars, houses but do not exist on the tax rolls.
Mr Abbasi also directed the FBR to undertake systemic and broad-based reforms in consultation with all stakeholders. He said the focus should be on facilitating businessmen and taxpayers.
The premier also noted that tax rates are very high in Pakistan. He said these rates need to be rationalised so that maximum people opt to come under the tax net.
The Tax Reforms Commission (TRC) has already submitted a comprehensive report on tax reforms with the premier recently.
The prime minister also directed top officials of the FBR to expedite the process of establishing its real time linkages with relevant organisations including Nadra, banks, provincial authorities, and utility service providers.
While taking measures to broaden tax base, the premier said steps should be taken to bridge the trust deficit between taxpayers and tax collectors.
The premier appreciated the revenue collection in the month of November and previous four months. “I expect to see similar growth in the months ahead,” he said.
Published in Dawn, December 7th, 2017