SPEAKING about the restoration of the Universal Self Assessment Scheme (USAS), the minister concerned has said he was hopeful that it will enhance a taxpayer’s confidence and will help in achieving the desired results. However, simplifying tax laws and procedures, and reducing tax rates are equally important to broaden the tax base and increase the tax revenue.

The existing tax laws are complicated and beyond comprehension. Therefore, a majority of the taxpayers has to seek services of tax practitioners and pay additional charges to help them file the tax return. In the good old days, the taxpayers were expected to file a tax return through a simple form and a bare minimum percentage of cases were selected for detailed audit; the rest of the returns used to be accepted under the USAS. The wealth statement was mandatory byond a certain bracket of income, and wealth statement and personal expenditure statement were not even required except for cases selected for audit.

Now, the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has complicated the procedure and made the filing of wealth statement and personal expenditure statement mandatory in every case. This condition has virtually made every case a stressful audit case and a source of harassment for the taxpayers.

Besides, high tax rate is yet another factor that discourages the taxpayers.

Since the government appears determined to facilitate the taxpayers, it must consider simplifying the tax laws. And if it cannot be done sooner, the process of tax return should at least be simplified to source of income and taxes paid only, doing away with voluminous present return forms and mandatory filing of wealth statement and personal expenditure statement in every case. Also, the government must consider reducing the tax rates to encourage more and more people to pay taxes.

Muhammad Iqbal Khan

Karachi

MANGROVE FORESTS: It is encouraging that China has agreed to help Pakistan in its conservation efforts to preserve mangrove forests along the Gwadar Port and beyond. A multi-pronged effort is needed to revert environmental degradation along the coastline. All the stakeholders must realise that the participation of the locals is essential in any such undertaking. The access of local people to coastal regions should not be limited, as it causes resentment among them.

Akbar Jan Marwat

Islamabad

JIRGA’S UTILITY: This refers to the editorial ‘Advocating jirgas’ (June 7). We must first understand the ground reality of Pakistan’s judicial system to unravel the inclination of masses towards the jirga system. In many rural areas, the judicial system is either ineffective or simply non-existent. These are the reasons that force people to opt for jirgas. Unless the system improves its outreach, the jirgas will continue to have a life of their own.

Saad Ahmed Mahar

Karachi

COMPLICATING A SIMPLE PROCESS: Most of the plays on popular entertainment channels these days revolve around marriages, which seems to be the only concern for most of the audience. Our cultural practices do get influenced by such plays, and, in that context, I was appalled to watch such plays validating whopping amounts, like Rs50 million, as haq mehr in the name of securing women’s future. This is damaging to young minds even though we do have a beautiful and simple process outlined in our religion.

Saad Saleem

Järvenpää, Finland

TELEVISION CONTENT: Our television plays are often devoid of any reality, and focus on lavish lifestyles. It will be better if they focussed on the less fortunate segments of society. They should show how the common man survives in heavy rain and scorching heat. The pandemic has multiplied the financial woes of the middle class. This issue is also missing from our TV plays.

Nazar ul Haq

Karachi

Published in Dawn, June 26th, 2021

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