APROPOS the editorial ‘Ambitious revenue target’ (May 28). It has been rightly pointed out that this is not the first time we have heard of using data innovatively to triangulate consumption patterns and identify potential new taxpayers.
For instance, the number of companies on tax record has always been less than the number registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan. The reason is simple: how can the whole of [corporate] population comprise potential taxpayers? Many companies die a natural death as management failure is a universal phenomenon.
Similarly, many companies registered with high plans do not even take off because of various market impediments. Exercises have been undertaken in the past to physically locate these companies on the given addresses but proved to be futile as no clue to their existence could be found on ground. In fact, the SECP needs to work for the ease of exit for such dormant companies, alternatively, it can remove these companies as part of a cleansing exercise to remove distortions in data.
The case of industrial and commercial consumers of utilities is also not much different. Someone needs to dig out old records of the Federal Board of Revenue to see results of voluminous exercises carried out in the past which showed actual users were different from those mentioned in the utility companies’ records.
Who doesn’t know that it is a herculean task to get your utility metre’s particulars updated? It was because of these harsh ground realities that unwelcome and the most criticised regime of withholding taxes was introduced to bring around those who “have shown tremendous resilience and ingenuity of their own to thwart such moves”.
A witness to tax history
Published in Dawn, June 5th, 2019