The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) on Friday extended the last date for filing of income tax returns for the tax year 2018 until March 31 in order to facilitate mainly those taxpayers who were excluded from the Active Taxpayers' List (ATL) for availing lower rates of withholding taxes.
The ATL list was issued on March 1, as of which the lower rates of withholding taxes are only available to those taxpayers whose names appear on the list.
The names of certain taxpayers had been excluded from the ATL primarily because they had filed their tax returns after the Dec 17, 2018 due date. Additionally, many genuine taxpayers failed to file their returns largely because of overloading and the slow speed of the FBR system.
As per a circular issued on Friday, the government has extended the last date for the filing of income tax/statement of final taxation, which were due on Aug 31, 2018 and earlier extended till Dec 15, the last date for filing of returns of total income and statements of final taxation for companies, individuals and association of persons which were due on Sept 30 and earlier extended till Dec 15, as well as, the the date of filing of returns of total income and statement of final taxation for companies which were due on Dec 31. The last dates have been extended until Mar 31 for all types of return filing.
An FBR spokesperson said that a number of queries had been received about extension of last date for filing of returns.
The Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) President Daroo Khan Achakzai has welcomed the government's decision to extend the last date for filing of tax returns in order to facilitate taxpayers for inclusion in the ATL to avail the lower tax rates.
He said it was against the true spirit of law and anti-facilitation measure for taxpayers who have fulfilled their responsibility as compliant taxpayers.
"Furthermore, it cannot be considered reasonable for these taxpayers to be treated as 'non-filers'," he said adding, that they should not be treated in the same manner as those non-filers who did not even bother to file returns at all.
He also requested the government to issue instructions to field formation to avoid raids at the business premises as well as at residential premises of the business community.
"We will fully cooperate with tax officials in case of seeking prior information regarding tax payments," he told Dawn over the telephone from Karachi.
Last week, Achakzai also wrote a letter to Prime Minister Imran Khan to apprise him about the issue that certain genuine taxpayers could not be included in the ATL.
The government had introduced an amendment in the Finance Act 2018 that those taxpayers who do not file their tax returns within the due date will not be included in the ATL in order to penalise them.
Prior to this amendment, the FBR had introduced an amendment in the income tax law as of which those taxpayers who do not file their returns before the due date would automatically be selected for an audit.
Later on, the government withdrew this and replaced it with a provision that the name of late filers names would not be included in the ATL.