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Move for fresh property survey

July 08, 2012

THE Excise and Taxation Department has asked the Sindh government to carry out a fresh survey of property units in the metropolis as there has been no such survey for the last eight years.

The survey would add a large number of units built during the last many years in the city in the tax net, boosting revenue of the province.

The Sindh Excise and Taxation Department has admitted that its overall tax revenue has increased over time but it has failed to achieve much in property tax collection.

The department, which contributes 63 per cent to the provincial revenue, is taking measures to plug leakages and boost tax revenue.

It has set up a directorate of internal audit to carry out scrutiny of all revenue receipts and expenditures to ensure transparency. The department has collected Rs23.5 billion through six provincial taxes in first 11 months of the last financial year against a target of Rs22.5 billion.

Its automated tax collection system — WeBox — of the Model Customs Collectorate, Karachi, has improved recovery of infrastructure cess charged on all imports landing in the city by sea and air.

This is a major step to check any revenue leakages through manual collection system in vogue prior to the link-up with the customs. The arrangement has led to increase in cess revenue by 36 per cent.

The department collected Rs17.9 billion from the cess during July-May last fiscal marking a 53 per cent jump in revenue.

It has arranged to exchange data of taxpayers with the Regional Tax Office (RTO) of the Federal Board of Revenue in Karachi to expand its network of professional tax. All persons eligible to pay income tax are assesses of the professional tax collected by the excise and taxation.

This arrangement is expected to increase tax revenue from 364 new assesses which include public limited companies, small businesses, petrol pumps and shops and professionals who have been added to the tax net.

To ensure transparency in motor vehicle registration, the excise department has made arrangements with NADRA for on the spot verification of CNICs presented at the time of registration, says Director General, Excise and Taxation, Shoaib Siddiqui.

In another modernisation effort, the department has opened its own website to provide on the spot information about incidence of taxes to the people. Now with a touch of the button, one can check status of a vehicle for sale including details about its ownership and tax payment position.

This would greatly help buyers of secondhand vehicles who earlier had to go to the MVR head office at the Civic Centre to check the status of the vehicle.

The department has started negotiations with its counterparts in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) to exchange data of registered vehicles. Online linkage with other provinces would help check double registration of vehicles saving motorists from double taxation, says Secretary Excise and Taxation, Manzoor Memon.

At present provinces do not give credit to motorists for road tax paid elsewhere.

The move would benefit Sindh the most as the highest number of vehicles (about 60 per cent) are registered in Karachi while their tax is paid by owners in their home towns.

As regards property tax, the city has been divided into 23 divisions for tax collection. Recoveries in three divisions including Site and other industrial estates have not been satisfactory due to dispute about their area of jurisdiction. Industrialists argue that they are paying taxes to the Sindh Industrial Trading Estate (SITE Ltd) hence the excise department has no authority to collect property tax from them.