Higher tax burden on non-filers in next budget: Haroon Akhtar

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KARACHI: Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Finance Haroon Akhtar Khan has said that there will be no new tax in the upcoming budget and the revenue generation will focus on increasing burden on transactions by non-filers.

Addressing the pre-budget seminar 2018/2019, organised by the Southern Regional Committee of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Pakistan (ICAP), he said the rates would be increased for non-filers of income tax returns in order to compel them to get registration.

He said that the introduction of valuations for immovable properties were major initiatives by the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) which also forced this sector to get registered with the tax authorities.

He vowed that the government will not tolerate people living a luxury life while remaining outside the tax net. He said that data has been gathered from third-party sources and the FBR was working on it.

Haroon Akhtar hoped the GDP growth will be around 6 per cent. “This major breakthrough has been realised via reductions in energy shortfall,” he said.

He said the country was facing a difficult economic situation due to the widening of current account deficit. However, there are many other economic indicators, which are portraying improvement in the economy, he added.

On the occasion, President ICAP Riaz A Rehman Chamdia thanked Haroon Akhtar for giving due consideration to the proposals. He said that the revenue collection of the past five years was impressive. “However, there is need to focus on broadening the tax base,” he added.

ICAP president said that broadening of tax base and equitable tax system was major areas of the proposals. There is need to review the existing taxation system for collecting tax through adopting best international practices that are suitable to our environment. “A growth enabled economy requires an efficient tax system and credible tax administration,” he added.

He said that ICAP is committed to supporting a sustainable economy. The ICAP president also offered to support the government’s efforts in broadening the tax base and evolving equitable taxation system.

ICAP Council Member and Fiscal Laws Committee Chairman Ashfaq Tola said that ICAP was not in favour of any amnesty scheme. He said that the government should take measures for anti-money laundering and flight of untaxed money abroad.

However, he said the government should consider giving one-time amnesty to the people for bringing back their undocumented foreign assets back to the homeland. Tola said that the laws have been tightened around the globe and it is difficult to park undocumented money in any country.

Members of ICAP Committee on Fiscal Laws, Haider A Patel and Asif Kasbati,  made presentations. They said that the minimum tax had been increased to 1.25 per cent through Finance Act, 2017 from previous one per cent. The rate of minimum tax should be reduced. They also objected to the continuation of super tax in the next tax year saying it will increase the burden on companies’ earnings.

Major tax proposals of the ICAP included a reduction in corporate tax rate from 30 per cent to 25 per cent; gas and electricity tariff should be reduced to decrease the cost of doing business; incentives for tax registration; buyers and sellers of 1300CC motor cars should be brought into the tax net.

Member Committee on Fiscal Laws Asif Haroon shared a summary of proposals. Towards the end of the seminar, Adnan Rizvi, Chairman SRC and Abdul Rab CPD Convener SRC joined the Chief Guest and the President ICAP on the stage for distribution of gifts to the speakers.