NA passes Income Tax Amendment Bill 2016 amid opposition protest

BusinessNA passes Income Tax Amendment Bill 2016 amid opposition protest

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: The National Assembly on Thursday passed a bill further to amend the Income Tax Ordinance, 2001 {The Income Tax (Amendment) Bill, 2016}, amid strong protest, walk out and note of dissent by the opposition.

The bill was moved by Minister for Climate Change Zahid Hamid on behalf of Finance Minister Senator Muhammad Ishaq Dar.

According to statement of objects and reasons of the bill, whereas a major segment of national economy is undocumented and a large number of traders who are required to file their income tax returns are either persistent non-filers or are underreporting their income and are depriving the national exchequer of its due share.

It states, in view of the prevailing culture of massive non-reporting and under-reporting, it is expedient to provide a one-time opportunity to the filer as well as non-filer to regularize their tax affairs by adopting a special and simplified procedure for assessment of their tax.

According to note of dissent of the opposition members, the scheme will be counter-productive to the objectives of enhancing government revenue and will sent a wrong message to the honest and committed tax payers.

The amnesty at a highly discounted rate (one percent) is unfair and unjust for the tax payers who pay their tax honestly.

“Without FBR reforms, the fundamental reasons why this scheme is being proposed will not change and we will face the same situation in a couple of years.”

Earlier, Opposition Leader Sayed Khursheed Shah raising objections over the bill said that it would shake confidence of the people. He said such schemes were also introduced in the past but were failed as they brought no relief to the people and the government.

PPP’s Sayed Naveed Qamar, PTI’s Shah Mahmood Qureshi, JI’s Sahibzada Tariq Ullah and MQM’s Rasheed Godail also criticized the bill.

Responding to opposition criticism, Parliamentary Secretary for Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs Rana Muhammad Afzal Khan said the credit went to the present government to bring traders into voluntarily tax scheme. He said in the past tax amnesty schemes were introduced for profiteers, black marketers and smugglers but there was no such waiver for these people in this scheme.

He said it would increase tax to GDP ratio and number of tax payers would be increased from 700,000 to 1100,000. He said the FBR during the last two years collected 33 percent extra tax.

He said no waiver had been given in this scheme to black marketers, traders and smugglers. He said the government had taken all the traders and their bodies into confidence and took the decision by majority. He said the scheme was being introduced after thorough discussions with traders bodies and experts.

Source: APP

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