Delay in single-page return form irks Asad

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ISLAMABAD: Finance Minister Asad Umar expressed his displeasure with Federal Board of Revenue’s (FBR) top officials for delaying the introduction of a single-page return form for salaried and small taxpayers.

In a recent meeting, Umar directed the officials to come up with the return form immediately, an official source privy to the meeting told Dawn on Monday.

The government has already extended the filing of tax returns until November 30. “The minister also directed FBR officials to give Urdu version of the returns as well,” the official said. Asked about the deadline for the proposed form, the official said the minister only directed to do it immediately.

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Plenty of complaints have been voiced at different forum regarding the complexity of e-filing platform IRIS, which consists of almost seven pages.

FBR Official Spokesperson Dr Muhammad Iqbal told Dawn that the bureau has already introduced the simplified return form. Regarding the Urdu version of forms, he said he was not aware whether they will be introduced from this fiscal year.

But Umar said the form should not be more than one page for salaried and small taxpayers and be made available in Urdu.

Also Read: FBR zeroes in on real estate transactions

Even Shahid Khaqqan Abbasi had also announced to introduce a single page return form to be available from July 1. That came as part of the tax reform package in which maximum relief was given to salaried and non-salaried business individuals.

According to a World Bank-PwC report “Paying Taxes 2015”, it takes 594 hours to comply with tax law provisions in Pakistan, which does not include time spent by taxpayer on filing withholding statements.

This time needs to be reduced by at least 33 per cent by simplifying returns and increasing the user friendliness of software.

The tax reform commission constituted by the previous government has also suggested FBR to introduce a single-page return form to facilitate taxpayers. “We are expecting to receive more than 1.5 million returns till year,” the official said.

Last year, FBR received 1.5 m returns.

Published in Dawn, October 23rd, 2018

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