LAHORE: The four provincial revenue authorities have expressed their concerns over lack of progress on the development of a single portal that will cut the number of annual sales tax payments by taxpayers from 60 to 12 a year by clubbing together the filings for all sales tax jurisdictions, provincial and federal both.

The senior officials of the provincial revenue authorities, who met here for their Inter- Provincial Coordination Meeting on Monday, also decided to reach out to the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) in the next few days to help resolve any pending technical or policy matters so that the single return is launched as early as possible.

In case the Pakistan Revenue Automation Limited (PRAL), the company that provides tax and revenue collection solutions to federal and provincial revenue agencies, required more time for completing the project, the provincial agencies will consider incrementally moving towards a single return for the provinces, beginning with the major sectors that operate across the provinces. This will reduce the number of declarations per year from 60 to 24. If the FBR also decides to join them instantly, the number will fall further to 12, that is, one return for all sales tax jurisdictions.

With a view to increasing coordination with one another to remedy the problems faced by the taxpayers, the authorities took notice of issues related to multiple compliances and inter-jurisdictional adjustments, which are causing hardship for the taxpayers and discussed in detail the possible solutions. It was unanimously decided that the best way forward lay in automation and further enhancement of close coordination between the four revenue authorities.

It was also decided that the Punjab Revenue Authority (PRA) would conduct a comparative analysis of the respective sales tax laws of all the provinces to identify major areas of difference. The exercise will lead towards harmonisation of provincial sales tax laws and rules.

The provinces also decided to move towards a negative list of services in order to make compliance easier and avoid unnecessary litigation and include necessary legal amendments to their respective laws in the next budget.

Other matters discussed at the meeting included taxation of the telecommunications sector, life insurance and incentives for the revival of the construction sector.

Published in Dawn, November 19th, 2019