FBR likely to get over 300,000 less tax returns despite increase in filing

VIAShahnawaz Akhter

KARACHI: The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) is likely lose over 300,000 income tax returns primarily owing to the restrictions imposed on the late filers, despite a significant rise in the number of returns that were filed by due date, sources said on Monday.

The last date for filing income tax expired by mid-night Monday and the FBR was compiling the final numbers of income tax returns filed by the cut-off date.

However, according to State Minister for Revenue Hammad Azhar, the total returns for tax year posted a healthy growth of 30 percent, increasing to 1.418 million, by December 15, 2018 compared to 1.121 million on the same date last year.


The FBR sources said it was estimated that another 30,000 returns, including corporate returns due on December 31, 2018, would be

added to the total number for the tax year 2018, bringing the total number of filed returns to around 1.45 million.

Through Finance Act, 2018, a section 182A was introduced to Income Tax Ordinance, 2001, under which a return filed after due date will not be considered as eligible for entering the Active Taxpayers List (ATL).

The appearance of name on the ATL is mandatory for availing reduced rate of withholding tax rates and also for qualifying to purchase immovable properties above Rs5 million and registration of locally manufactured or imported vehicles.

The weekly ATL, issued by the FBR on Monday, showed that around 1.75 million returns had been filed for tax year 2017.

If the FBR is able to receive 1.45 million returns for the tax year 2018, then they will be short by over 300,000 than the last tax year.

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Tax experts said under Section 182A if a person fails to file a return of income by the due date then his name would not be included in the ATL for the year for which return was not filed before the due date.

“When there is no incentive then the taxpayers will not be interested in filing returns after the due date,” the experts added.

Prior to the latest amendment, the late filers remained interested in filing income tax returns even after due date, till February 28, because it would make their names appear in the very next weekly ATL , qualifying them for availing the benefits of being filers.

A member of Tax Reform Commission (TRC), which was constituted by the previous government, said it was disappointing to note that instead of broadening of tax base, FBR had been unable to stop the number of filers falling.

The TRC in its report submitted to finance minister in May 2015 advocated that the FBR should deploy its 50 percent human resource for broadening the tax base.

“For next five years, field units for the remaining taxpayers and potential taxpayers should revert to territorial jurisdiction based set up with main function of these field units being broadening the tax base,” the report recommended.

(This news/article originally appeared in The News on December 18th, 2018)

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