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ISLAMABAD, Oct 10: The Central Board of Revenue expects to receive 1.75 million income tax returns by the end of the current fiscal year out of 2.28 million taxpayers in the country of 160 million people.

The share of taxpayers to population in Pakistan is low when compared with few selected developing and developed countries, where the share ranges between 2.7 per cent and 86.4 per cent. For example, in India the share of taxpayers to population is 2.7 per cent, in Pakistan 1.5 per cent, in Argentina 14.5 per cent, France 58 per cent and the same is 86.4 per cent in Canada.

When contacted member income tax Salman Nabi told Dawn on Tuesday that his department was expecting to receive 1.75 million income tax returns by the end of the current fiscal as against 1.5 million returns received last fiscal year, an increase of 16.6 per cent.

He said the returns filed up to Sept 30, 2006 were up by 20 per cent to 1.3 million as compared to 1.1 million during the same period last year.

When asked that in percentage term the share of taxpayer to population is very low in Pakistan, the member said that he believed that most portion of the population lived below poverty line, besides 90 million people living in rural areas. In nutshell, he concluded that income tax filers in Pakistan were not bad while keeping other social economic problems indicators.

The number of returns filing increases following the government decision that the CBR would accept the statement of tax deduction from the employer as return of the taxpayer. This decision helped a lot to generate easy returns for the CBR that improved their statistics while comparing with the previous years to achieve better growth figures.

When asked about the income tax department contribution in unearthing the new taxpayers, Mr Nabi pointed out that all commissioners had been given 20 per cent target which was achieved during the last year. However, he did not mention the exact number of taxpayers added due to the efforts of the income tax officers.

In reply to another question, the member elaborated that two commissioners in Lahore and Karachi had been exclusively working on the enhancement of tax base since last year.

Mr Nabi said that 2.8 million people were issued national tax numbers (NTNs) till date. He, however, said that only 1.9 million NTNs were verified with the NADRA. This means that the rest of the NTNs holders were either bogus or registered on fake ID number, etc., for many purposes.

Answering a question, Mr Nabi said that the income tax department was carrying out routine desk audits of the income tax returns. He said that unlike past, the CBR did not announce the number of taxpayers to be audited.

He said that 60 new facilitation centres would be established across the country to facilitate the taxpayers in filing their returns, adding that the income tax department was trying to pursue the people to submit the copy of their CNIC with their returns.

Even in case of contractors and suppliers, the non-submission of CNIC was linked with a minor penalty but again this measure did not help a lot in achieving better results, the member added.