Tax Amnesty Scheme Gets Overwhelming Response, Says FBR

Global tax laws were being changed and soon it would become difficult for Pakistanis to hide their assets overseas: FBR Chairman

JUN 23, 2018 (BE2C2 Report): Tax Amnesty Scheme was receiving encouraging results and its success would help resolving the current account deficit and balance of payment issues.

This was stated by spokesman for Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) Dr Muhammad Iqbal on Friday while addressing a press conference in Islamabad at FBR House.

Dr. Iqbal said the number of beneficiaries under tax amnesty scheme was increasing every day.

He said under the scheme, the people could benefit by declaring their domestic and foreign assets as they would have to pay only a nominal tax under the scheme.

The scheme — a one-time allowance — was approved by both the Senate and the National Assembly, and the Supreme Court has also cleared it.

Former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi had announced the amnesty scheme in January, encouraging Pakistanis to declare their foreign assets. The government had also offered reduced rates to broaden the tax base and address the challenges to the economy.

Resident, non-resident Pakistanis and expats can bring their assets to Pakistan after declaring their bank accounts.

They will pay only 2 percent tax to bring their assets to Pakistan and 4 percent tax in case they do not bring their assets to Pakistan but declare them as assets held by them overseas — submission of yearly tax return has also been made mandatory for Pakistanis earning more than $10,000 abroad regardless of whether they owe taxes on their overseas earnings or not.

On Thursday, FBR Chairman Tariq Mahmood Pasha urged the business community to avail advantage of the scheme, terming it the last chance to legalize undeclared assets.

During his visit to the Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI), he said the amnesty scheme was focused on the business community, and public office holders and their dependents were excluded from it. “Therefore, they (businessmen) should derive maximum benefit from it,” he said.

He remarked that global tax laws were being changed and soon it would become difficult for Pakistanis to hide their assets overseas. He said the amnesty scheme was passed by parliament and therefore, it was difficult to extend its deadline.

“Due to inefficiency of FBR, untaxed money went out of Pakistan. However, the new global tax laws would squeeze space for tax evaders,” he said, adding that Pakistanis have a good opportunity at hand to declare untaxed assets by taking benefit of amnesty scheme.

He said that upon declaring hidden assets by June 30, 2018, taxpayers would also be facilitated in filing tax returns for this financial year. He assured full cooperation from the FBR for the business community in taking benefit of amnesty scheme.

To a question from the media, the FBR spokesman said last date of the scheme was June 30 and FBR did not have any authority to extend last date of the scheme.

Iqbal said keeping in view the benefits of tax amnesty scheme, the caretaker set up was also fully committed to ensure success of the scheme.

He said government as well as public representatives were not eligible to take benefit from the scheme while people involved in different crimes were also not allowed to benefit from it.

To a question, Dr Iqbal pointed out that FBR’s mandate was to increase revenue collection simultaneously with the increased economic activities in the country.

He said the FBR was also taking special measures to simplify the taxation system to facilitate taxpayers.

In this regard, he said the FBR would also introduce single page tax return for the salaried class.

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