The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) released its 2019 tax directory for parliamentarians on Monday, which shows that former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gillani paid no tax in the said year while Prime Minister Imran Khan paid Rs9.8 million.
According to the document, the directory was tabulated from tax returns filed manually and electronically till January 3.
"This data only includes income and tax declared in returns filed to FBR and does not include agricultural income tax paid to provinces, sales tax, federal excise duty etc," the document states.
In the foreword, Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin said that the FBR has been publishing the directory for the last six years.
However, this time special efforts were made to make the directory more informative "which will help not only in educating taxpayers but also in encouraging compliance with tax laws as a national duty," he said.
"The directory embodies the government’s policy of better governance, accountability and transparency through public access to information," the minister added.
According to the data, Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif paid Rs8.2m while PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari paid Rs0.53m.
PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari paid Rs2.2m. Senior banker and incumbent finance minister, Shaukat Tarin paid Rs26.6m while former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi paid Rs4.9m.
Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah's tax amounted to Rs1.1m. In contrast, Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar paid a measly Rs2,000.
Current Balochistan Chief Minister Abdul Qudoos Bizenjo Rs1.1m and his predecessor Jam Kamal Khan paid Rs11.8m. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Mahmood Khan paid Rs66,258.
Among the members of the federal cabinet, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi paid Rs0.9m while Planning and Development Minister Asad Umer paid Rs4.3m. Energy Minister Hammad Azhar paid Rs29,025 in an individual capacity while his associations of persons (AOPs) tax amounted to Rs18.1m.
Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan Senator Faisal Subzwari, Punjab Education Minister Murad Raas and Punjab Prisons Minister Fayyazul Hassan Chohan were among several lawmakers that paid Rs2,000.
Leader of the Opposition in the Senate Yousuf Raza Gillani and PML-N's Azma Zahid Bokhari did not pay anything in taxes. Additionally, a PTI MNA from Karachi, Muhammad Najeeb Haroon, paid a whopping Rs140m.
Tarin calls for simplifying tax regime
Addressing a ceremony held for launching the tax directory, Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin said that it was important for parliamentarians to make their tax returns public as it would ensure transparency and set an example for others.
He also highlighted the importance of paying taxes, adding that it was imperative that everyone in the country paid taxes and that there should be no "sacred cows".
"The government is unable to help the common man because we are unable to fulfil our current expense from this revenue. So, for development expenditure we have to take loans," he said.
The minister also said that the taxation system in Pakistan had a lot of "distortions". "Some are taken at a federal level, some at a provincial level [but] we do not speak to each other," he said, adding that authorities were now moving towards "tax harmonisation".
Tarin also called for simplifying the tax system. "We take withholding taxes because we are unable to collect it from other means. We should have two kinds of taxes: income tax and consumption tax. There should be no other taxes apart from this."
The minister said that the country should move towards "progressive taxation".
He said that the government was focusing on increasing the tax net, adding that there were three million taxpayers in the country. He said that the FBR will now send notices to those who are not paying taxes based on the information from their ID cards, bank accounts and utility bills.
"This will not be harassment but we will put the facts and figures in front of them," he said, adding that this will be done in a "knowledgeable, organised and objective" manner.