Intended action against tax evaders

In a meeting at Banigala, Prime Minister Imran Khan has hinted at crackdown against tax evaders after the expiry of date fixed for assets declaration scheme. Complete data has been called about the wealthy people having commodious residential properties and expensive vehicles but the dirty tricks playing tax collectors of Inland Revenue Service Department of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) have also included the small savings holders of Rs.500000 in this data. This is a mischief of corrupt tax collector to once again torpedo and eventually fail the documentation of economy drive like the one that failed because of such dirty tricks in the year 2000 in General Musharraf government. It will certainly damage the popularity of the last hoe of the nation Imran Khan by igniting public backlash against him.

Pensioners invest the payment of the commuted portion of their gross pension in the National Saving Schemes like Behbood Certificates. After the increase of monthly profits on such like saving schemes senior citizens are also investing their small savings on monthly basis in these certificates. Incorporating the small savings of Rs. 500000 as concealed income will serve no useful purpose except to damage the financial system of the country at a critical juncture of unmanageable economic crisis. The Prime Minister should be careful against the traps laid by foxy tax collectors of Inland Revenue Services Department of the FBR. It were these dishonest bureaucrats of tax collecting bureaucracy who tried to block the issuance of appointment notification of Shabbar Zaidi as Chairman FBR by botched manipulative tactics in the Establishment Division.

The data of 3.8 million wealthy people had been collected by FBR in 2010. But it could not be utilised for increasing the number of active taxpayer because of political reasons in the past and now the top tax collecting bureaucracy is bent upon converting the drive against non-filers and big tax evaders into public backlash and damaging the financial institutions like banks and National Saving Centers by creating liquidity crisis to choke the sources of small savings. It is for the finance ministry and Prime Ministers’ office to take notice of it. 

The Inland Revenue Service Department has deliberately neglected its prime responsibility of correcting the invalid addresses of wealthy non-filers. The tax collectors had issued 3.121 notices to non-filers of tax returns in December, 2018. The campaign met with weak response as only 220 of them had complied with terms of notices because of the incorrect addresses. Instead of correcting the addresses with the help of field staff second and third round of notices for filing returns were sent on faulty ones.

In its manifesto PTI leadership had promised deep rooted structural reforms in the FBR by inducting scrupulous professionals from the private sector but has so far succeeded in implementing a half hearted measure of appointing Chairman FBR for a period of two years to appease the sluggish and unscrupulous tax bureaucracy. It explains the revenue shortfall of Rs. 400 billion plus in the current fiscal year. How can the revenue the target of Rs. 5.1 trillion can be achieved in the next fiscal year when the tax collectors are hand in glove with big tax evaders and are after the blood of honest pensioners and holders of small savings who keep theirs savings in banks and other financial institutions?

The tax collectors of FBR are more interested to show the income tax evading route to big landlords on their income from industrial and business enterprises. A study of the Federal Tax Ombudsman (FTO) reveled how the landlords of Punjab, Interior Sindh and Baluchistan availed exemption from the payment of income tax on their income from diary farming, fisheries and poultry farming by declaring these sources under the agriculture income. It will be a great service to the country and its people to abolish tax exemption on agriculture income to plug for ever the loophole that enables the feudal class to evade direct taxes on their incomes from industrial and business enterprises.