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Boost for tax evaders


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THE controversial bill seeking to change laws to provide an opportunity to tax dodgers to legalise their wealth has finally reached the National Assembly. Over the next few days, the tax amnesty bill could be passed into law. Those who think that opposition to the bill by the PML-Q, the MQM and the PML-N will block its passage are mistaken. After all, which political party does not have people in its fold waiting to take advantage of the tax concessions that the bill offers? And why are the government and the Federal Board of Revenue pushing the bill so earnestly when economists and tax bar associations have opposed the scheme? Both the finance minister and the FBR chairman insist that the amnesty will bring around 3.2 million untaxed rich people into the tax net, raising the number of taxpayers to four million from the existing 800,000 — which would still be a minuscule per cent of the population. The FBR contends that it is in possession of a “wealth” of data on the lavish expenditure of those who are being offered amnesty. If what the FBR is claiming is true, then the board has a very weak case for the amnesty scheme. It should have initiated ruthless action against those who do not pay their taxes instead of facilitating them in legalising their wealth.

The approval of the amnesty by the NA will not send a positive signal to honest taxpayers. It will only discourage them and provide an incentive for them to resort to illegal means in the hope of getting a similar deal a few years down the road. Nor will the exclusion of politicians and bureaucrats and their families from the scheme, as proposed by the FBR chief, help remove popular doubts about the hidden intentions of those who are pushing for it. The FBR must understand that the argument that it lacks enough powers to initiate legal action against tax dodgers and evaders doesn’t hold water. It has sufficient powers to punish cheaters. But FBR action against such people is not possible without political backing, and the government will not change its stance with polls round the corner.

Comments (4) Closed

haroon Jan 07, 2013 10:49am
Why should people pay the Tax in Pakistan? To enable military to build more DHS (plots) more bakeries and buy new weapon system but still can't fight the war? To bureauratics to lead luxurious life and buy properties and send KIds to university in West or the Politicans to destroy the country with unrepresentative assembly (33% seats holders are selected not elected by the people in all the 7 assemblies of Pakistan). yes my friends the 33% women seats holders. Who according to any definition are not people representatives. So is there any reason that common man should pay the TAX. I beseech common man not to pay the Tax because they will the losers. Whatevcer the newspaper and editors write all are TAX evaders.
Anwar Qureshi Jan 07, 2013 10:10am
Honestly through this scheme the outgoing PPP and its allies will utilize the blackmoney turned into white money for their election expenses and this scheme should be put on HOLD otherwise it will be financial-NRO. Now it is learnt that PTI will agitate against this move before the Supreme Court of Pakistan for reversal, if passed. FBR should have enough muscles to initiate actions against such blackmoney-holders to serve as deterrance against others. If this move is not scrapped, then the honest taxpayers will be discouraged and they will be forced to do the same.
Sohrab Jan 07, 2013 04:03pm
One more feather to the cap for the collecive wisdom of the looters of this country. Keep up the good work and you will have no country to rule. Go ahead and repeat the shameful history of the subcontinent when they did not have the wisdom to govern and were invaded by the Moghuls, the British and what not. Kudos to all of you shamless cold blooded reptiles.
Husain Jan Jan 08, 2013 07:07am
It is a common knowledge that all so-called independent institutions are not acting as such and have become a tool and playing according to wishes of the govt because all those who count are appointees of the govt and most, if not all, of them have been appointed there without any consideration of merit, and FBR is no exception. No wonder then that FBR dare not catch the tax evaders and the big fish. The Bureau being itself infested with corrupt officers one would be living in a dream world if any one hopes that it will go after the tax defaulters. It will only harass the honest and regular tax payers, and would (dare) not touch evaders - the big fish.