ISLAMABAD     -    Although business community is continuously protesting against the government’s campaign of broadening tax base of the country, but only 312,361 traders are filing tax returns that are very low as compared to the total number of traders in the country. Number of tax filers is very low in Pakistan and there are another three to 3.5 million traders, who are not in the tax net. The data of Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) showed that only 104,219 traders are filing tax returns in major markets of five main cities, including Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Rawalpindi and Faisalabad. According to the data, 3925 traders are filing tax returns and paying tax worth Rs567.7 million in four major markets of Lahore. In Lahore, 2096 traders of Anarkali market are filing returns. Meanwhile, as many as 563 traders of mall road, 480 of Hafeez Center and 786 traders of Liberty Market are filing their tax returns.

Similarly, around 2266 traders are tax filers in five markets of Faisalabad, which are paying Rs141.7 million tax. The breakup showed that 904 traders of Rail Bazar, 530 traders of Chiniot Bazar, 418 traders of Katcheri Bazar, 294 in Anarkali and 120 traders in D ground are tax filers. In Karachi, which is economic hub of the country, only 85,020 traders of six main markets are tax filers and paid tax of Rs30 billion. Breakup showed 58,106 traders of Saddar market, 14,780 in DHA and 9446 traders in Clifton are tax filers. The data showed that 6580 traders are tax filers in Rawalpindi. Rawalpindi traders have paid tax worth of Rs1.09 billion. Meanwhile, 6428 traders have filed their tax returns and paid tax worth of Rs1.934 billion in federal capital (Islamabad).

The incumbent government had introduced legislation to bring traders into tax base of the country. The government had set the CNIC condition for making purchases of over Rs50,000. However, traders had expressed concerns over the decision and announced countrywide strike in the country. Traders had observed shutter down strike in July and then on October 29 and 30 against the CNIC condition. However, the federal government has agreed to give traders sweeping concessions including relaxation in registration conditions.

Traders announced to end their strike soon after finalization of agreement with the top economic managers of the country. Federal government and traders on Wednesday signed 11 points agreement in the ministry of finance. According to the agreement, the government has agreed to delay any action for three months till January 2020 on showing CNIC for buying and selling of goods up to Rs50,000. Traders with over Rs100 million turnovers would pay 0.5 percent turnover tax as against 1.5 percent. Similarly, traders with annual sales of up to Rs100 million would be excluded from the list of the withholding agents. Furthermore, only those businessmen and traders with electricity bill equal to or more than Rs1.2 million annually will be required to get included with the sales tax registration as against Rs0.6 million previously.