Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has directed senior tax officials to register new taxpayers on the basis of computerised national identity cards (CNICs) and ordered that the system of filing tax returns be simplified.
Official sources said here yesterday that the demand came from the prime minister while he was addressing a congress of tax officials at the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) headquarters.
The tax officials had gathered in Islamabad to work out a strategy and discuss measures for achieving the revenue collection target for the current fiscal year.
Abbasi is the first prime minister in the recent past to personally visit the FBR and address tax official directly, said Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Revenue Haroon Akhtar Khan.
He said that the premier had been invited to interact directly with FBR officials.
Abbasi was not happy with the current level of tax compliance in the country.
“The addition of 5,000 or 10,000 people is not a performance,” the premier said, adding there is a potential of 8.5mn people who can be brought under the tax net easily.
Currently, only 1.2mn people have filed their tax returns every year.
The premier told FBR officials to use the CNIC for tracing all individuals involved in various kinds of transactions including banking, utility services, buying and selling activities.
He said that notices should be issued to these people through use of technology and co-operation of National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra).
The prime minister said that it was now an easy task to trace such people who buy new cars and houses but do not exist on the tax rolls.
Abbasi also directed the FBR to undertake systemic and broad-based reforms in consultation with all stakeholders.
He said that the focus should be on facilitating businessmen and taxpayers.
The premier also noted that tax rates are very high in Pakistan.
Abbasi said these rates need to be rationalised so that maximum people opt to come under the tax net.
The Tax Reforms Commission (TRC) recently submitted a comprehensive report on tax reforms to the premier.
The prime minister also directed top FBR officials to expedite the process of establishing its real time linkages with relevant organisations, including Nadra, banks, provincial authorities, and utility service providers.
While taking measures to broaden the tax base, Abbasi said that steps should be taken to bridge the trust deficit between taxpayers and tax collectors.
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