• 93 parliamentarians did not file returns in tax year 2019
• PTI MNA Najeeb Haroon paid the most tax out of all parliamentarians
• Shehbaz Sharif, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi’s tax payments decline
• Yousaf Raza Gilani, Asif Zardari claim highest agricultural income in Senate and NA, respectively

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan’s first year in office saw his income tax payment surge from Rs282,449 in the tax year 2018 to Rs9.85 million in 2019, while Opposition Leader Shehbaz Sharif’s tax payments saw a decline during the same period.

Mr Sharif, who is also the president of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), paid Rs8.242 million in tax year 2019, compared to Rs9.73m in the previous tax year and Rs10.29m in 2017 — a decline of 15.3 per cent. His son Hamza Shehbaz paid Rs7.104m in tax year 2019 against Rs8.70m in 2018, a decline of 18.34pc.

The highest taxpayer among the parliamentarians is Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) MNA Muhammad Najeeb Haroon who paid Rs140.749m in tax year 2019, almost the same amount he paid a year ago. He is followed by Senator Talha Mehmood who paid Rs32.280m and Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin at Rs26.627m.

This information was revealed in the seventh tax directory of parliamentarians, released by Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin on Monday at Federal Board of Revenue headquarters after a delay of more than two years. The directories for tax years 2020 and 2021 are still pending.

It is worth noting that the PTI government released the 2018 tax year directory nearly two years late, in September 2020. The normal precedence for the issuance of the parliamentarians’ tax directory was the month of March, but the current government has released it a time when a controversial mini-budget seeking Rs343bn sales tax exemptions – among other things – is pending parliamentary approval.

As per the tax year directory for 2019, 93 parliamentarians did not file their tax returns while computerised identity cards of 63 parliamentarians are missing from their returns. FBR Chairman Ashfaq Ahmed said that this year, additional columns had been added to show income under different categories i.e. normal, presumptive and agriculture.

Normal income includes income from business, salary, dividends etc, while presumptive income includes rental income, profit on debt, exports etc.

Similarly, the total tax payment by an association of persons (AOP) on behalf of a parliamentarian – of which the parliamentarian is also a member – was also shown, which created confusion. This year, on the advice of the Cabinet, the share of a parliamentarian’s tax paid by an AOP has also been shown, he said.

The FBR chairman said that while the board had done its best to ensure there were no mistakes in the data, but in case of any human or technical error, parliamentarians could approach FBR to update their tax record.

National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser paid Rs555,794 in his individual capacity, while his AOP tax amounted to Rs1.434m.

National Assembly

According to the data released in the new format, 312 MNAs filed their income tax returns, compared to 311 the previous year ago. Of these, 144 MNAs - 46pc - also claimed agricultural income.

Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) co-chairperson Asif Ali Zardari paid Rs2.218m in tax year 2019 against Rs2.89m a year ago, reflecting a decline of 23.25pc. His son, PPP chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari paid Rs535,243 in tax year 2019 against Rs294,117 in tax year 2018.

The highest agricultural income was declared by Mr Zardari at Rs136.048m while his son declared Rs29.666m as agricultural income.

The parliamentarian with the second highest agricultural income was PTI Minister Khusro Bakhtiar at Rs42.987m. However, Mr Bakhtiar paid only Rs158,100 income tax in 2019.

Among the members of the federal cabinet, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi paid Rs0.9m, Planning and Development Minister Asad Umer paid Rs4.3m. Foreign Affairs Minister Omar Ayub Khan paid Rs957,497, while Energy Minister Hammad Azhar paid Rs29,025 in his individual capacity while his AOP tax amounted to Rs18.1m.

The tax payments of Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, who was the highest taxpaying parliamentarian in tax year 2018 with a payment of Rs241.32 million during his tenure as prime minister, have now fallen to Rs4.871m in tax year 2019.

The MNAs who paid the lowest tax included minority MNAs Jai Parkash and Dr. Darshan, Dr Shazia Sobia Aslam Soomro, Qadir Khan Mandokhail and Ms Syma Nadeem.

The bulk of the MNAs, 124 paid less than Rs50,000 in income tax. Another 45 paid less than Rs100,000 and 36 paid less than Rs200,000. A total of 92 MNAs paid between Rs300,000 to under Rs10 million in tax.

Senate

Eighty senators filed their income tax returns in tax year 2019 compared to 90 senators in the previous year, i.e. 2018.

Of these 80, 19 senators declared income from agriculture. Under the income tax ordinance 2001, agricultural income is exempted from income tax, while the same is taxable in provinces. No details of agricultural income tax paid by the parliamentarians was available.

Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani paid Rs1.399m in tax, while the data shows that in 2019 former prime minister and Pakistan Peoples Party Senator Yousuf Raza Gilani did not pay any income tax, but declared Rs10m in agricultural income.

He is the senator with the highest amount of income derived from agriculture, followed by Senator Muzafar Hussain Shah at Rs9m and Senator Muhammad Ali Shah Jamot at Rs7.5m.

The lowest tax-paying senators are Irfan-ul-Haque Siddiqui, Syed Faisal Ali Subzwari, Gurdeep Singh, Umer Farooq and Khalida Ateeb.

Provinces

Among provincial chief executives, Balochistan CM Abdul Quddus Bizenjo paid Rs1.061m in tax, followed by Sindh CM Syed Murad Ali Shah at Rs1.099m and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa CM Mahmood Khan at Rs66,258. Interestingly, Punjab Chief Minister Usman Bazdar paid a mere Rs2,000 in the tax year 2019, while he paid no tax in the previous year.

Among members of the Balochistan assembly, 43 filed their tax returns in 2019, while 13 did not. Mir Akbar Askani paid the highest tax of Rs13.390m, while former CM Jam Kamal paid Rs11.750m. The lowest tax payment in the province was made by Mahjabeen Sheeren at Rs420,600.

However, Balochistan MPA Sardar Yar Muhammad Rind declared Rs294.626m in agricultural income – the highest among all parliamentarians – followed by MPA Nawabzada Tariq Magsi.

At least 32 members of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa assembly did not file their tax returns for 2019. Amjad Khan Afridi paid the highest tax of Rs12.11m, followed by Faisal Shakoor Khan at Rs5.63m. KP Finance Minister Taimur Saleem Khan paid Rs144,145, while Ravi Kumar, Samar Haroon Bilour, Waqar Ahmad Khan and Muhammad Abdus Salam paid the lowest taxes.

Of the 369 members of the Punjab Assembly, 42 did not file tax returns for 2019. MPA Mumtaz Ali was the highest taxpayer with Rs29.678m, followed by Sheikh Alla Ud Din (Rs11.174m) and Amjad Mehmood Chaudhry (Rs8.362m).

Surprisingly, more than 120 Punjab MPAs paid less than Rs10,000 in income tax and several paid only Rs2,000 and Rs1,000 in taxes. The highest agriculture income in Punjab was Rs31.19m declared by MPA Makhdoom Hashim Jawan Bakht, followed by MPA Sardar Husnain Bahadar Dreshak at Rs22m and Mumtaz Ali at Rs8.812m, respectively.

Of the 168 members of the Sindh Assembly, 19 did not file tax returns for 2019, but their names are present on the tax roll. Ali Gohar Khan Mahar was the highest taxpayer in the assembly with Rs9.786m, followed by Mumtaz Ali (Rs4.826m), and Ali Hassan (Rs4.530m), while the lowest amount of tax was paid by Ali Ghulam, Faraz Dero, Syed Hashim Raza Jilani and Abdul Bari Pitafi Rs200. The highest agriculture income in the province was declared by Mumtaz Husain Jakhrani at Rs48m, followed by Ali Hasan at Rs58.95m, Nadir Ali Magsi at Rs43m and Shaejeel Inam at Rs35m.

Dawn reached out to Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry to ask about the increase in the PM’s income, who said he had asked the PM’s tax consultant for details.

Published in Dawn, January 4th, 2022

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