ISLAMABAD: Cricket is big entertainment and now big money as well. And those playing the game hit as many boundaries with the money as they do with the ball.
Though this is not news, details of the FBR’s tax profiles of national cricketers highlight the nationwide tendency not to pay taxes or ignore the paperwork in this regard.
The FBR’s investigations have focused on 21 cricketers who, according to the bureau, did not file tax returns and/or used other loopholes in the system to keep their moolah safe from the prying eyes of tax authorities. The information was collected by the FBR’s intelligence directorate.
In most cases, cricketers have had the tax deducted at source — which means that the tax is deducted at the time they are being paid and it is deducted by the organisation making the payment. In their case, it is the PCB.
However, most citizens whose tax is deducted at source still need to file tax returns. Under the Income Tax Ordinance 2001, individuals file income tax returns to reveal all their taxable sources of income.
And those who have more than one source of income but do not file returns are guilty of default and hence can be fined or penalised.
The minimum penalty for not filing returns/statements/wealth statements starts from Rs5,000 and can be as high as 25 per cent of the tax payable in a year. The non-filer will either declare his total income for assessment of tax in a year or tax official will declare it ex-party.
The cricketers investigated by FBR are guilty of not filing their tax returns, which experts feel, indicates that they may not be disclosing their other sources of income where the tax is not deducted at time of payment.
More serious still, six cricketers don’t figure on the tax roll at all — Rana Naveed-ul-Hassan, Wahab Riaz, Asad Shafiq, Tanvir Ahmed, Yasir Arafat and Kamran Akmal.
They have played First Class cricket, and/or for the national cricket team (NCT), for years. For example, Kamran Akmal has been playing for Pakistan since 2002 and Rana Naveed and Yasir Arafat since 2007.
Wahab Riaz, Asad Shafiq and Tanvir Ahmad played First Class cricket before they joined the national team in 2010, 2007 and 2010 respectively. The Pakistan Cricket Board did deduct tax from their remunerations for international matches, tournaments and other related activities. The National Bank of Pakistan did the same with Kamran Akmal, when he was playing for the bank.
But because the six never filed their tax returns, they do not possess a National Tax Number (NTN), without which one cannot even buy a new car in Pakistan.
At the same time, be it those who do not file tax returns or those who do not have an NTN, the tax department has no clue whether these players paid tax on their non-PCB earnings.
Such undocumented earning can come from domestic cricket they may have played for PIA, UBL, HBL, etc, district level clubs or any international cricket played outside of the PCB net such as for English counties including Sussex, Essex and Yorkshire.
For instance, according to the report, Yasir Arafat played for nine domestic and international teams, Tanvir Ahmad for four domestic teams, Asad Shafiq for nine domestic teams, Wahab Riaz for seven domestic and international teams, Rana Naveed-ul-Hassan for 12 domestic and international teams.
Interestingly, however, the tax department has no record of the money any of these cricketers may have earned from commercial international tournaments, such as the Indian and Bangladesh Premier Leagues.
Any income earned abroad and repatriated to Pakistan through banking channels is exempted from income tax but not from being declared. This money has to be declared which these cricketers have not done.
Among the 15 prominent players who are on the tax roll, many did not file annual tax returns for 2010 and 2011, although they may have earned huge amounts in that period from domestic and international cricket. These are Imran Farhat, Saeed Ajmal, Taufiq Umer, Muhammad Umer Akmal, Abdul Rehman, Umar Gul, and Sohail Tanveer.
Imran Farhat and Taufiq Umer have been on the national team since 2001, Umar Gul since 2003, Abdul Rehman and Sohail Tanveer since 2007, Saeed Ajmal since 2008, and Muhammad Umer Akmal since 2009. But they have filed no tax returns though the PCB has deducted tax.
Misbahul Haq, who has served as captain during the current series against Australia, filed only an employer’s statement about his earnings in 2010 but nothing the next year.
Muhammad Hafeez, captain of the T20 matches in the same series against Australia has also behaved similarly.
Senior cricketers such as Muhammad Younus Khan and Shoaib Akhtar have also been guilty of this.
Last but not least, none of the cricketers has filed his wealth statement.
Under the income tax law, those who pay more than Rs35, 000 in income tax in a year, are also supposed to file a wealth statement; this is mandatory.
Captain of the national test and ODI teams, Misbah-ul-Haq has paid at source Rs1.479 million in taxes in 2011, less than half the Rs3.362 million that he paid in 2010.
The incumbent captain of the national T20 team, Muhammad Hafeez has not filed any return, but a tax of Rs1.33 million has been deducted at source from his income as tax in tax year 2011 as against Rs0.351 million in tax in 2010, showing an increase of 278 per cent.
Former captain of the national cricket team, Shoaib Malik, paid Rs1.179 million tax in 2011 as against Rs3.976 million in tax in 2010, showing a decline of 70 per cent.
All rounder and former captain of national cricket team Shahid Khan Afridi paid an amount of Rs6.874 million as tax in tax year 2011 as against Rs3.195 million paid in tax year 2010, showing an increase of 115 per cent.
Former Captain of NCT Muhammad Younus Khan paid Rs1.362 million as tax in tax year 2011 as against Rs1.896 million taxes that he paid in tax year 2010, showing a decline of 28 per cent.
Shoaib Akhtar, the former fast bowler, paid 2.583 million as tax in 2011.