ISLAMABAD - The PML-N government has faced a serious setback in broadening the extremely low tax base of the country, as only 750,000 people filed Income Tax returns for fiscal year 2013-14 by December 5 (Friday), the last date of submission.

An official of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) informed that about 750,000 people had filed Income Tax returns by December 5. As many as 835,000 people had filed tax returns the previous year.

The figures clearly reflect that numbers of income filing returns had reduced despite the fact that government had extended the last date of filing several times.

The incumbent government had planned to include 100,000 non-tax filers into tax every year in next three years to broaden the extremely low tax base of the country, but the current numbers of filing income tax returns is an alarming situation for the economic managers of the country.  For the last fiscal year 2013-2014, the PML-N government had set its target for increasing the tax-to-GDP ratio to 10.2 pc. But the ratio remained at 9.3 pc of GDP.

It is worth mentioning here that FBR had given several deadlines for filing of income tax returns for the previous year since August this year. Various professional/business/trade bodies requesting the extension in the last date of filing of returns for tax year 2014, which was already extended on the demand of the taxpayers more than once, first for salaried persons from 31-8-2014 to 30-09-2014, then for all taxpayers from 30-09-2014 to 31-10-2014 and then to 21-11-2014. However, after 5th December, 2014, non-filers will be issued notices for levy of penalty.  It may be noted that the minimum amount of penalty is Rs. 20,000/-. Default surcharge for late payment of tax will also be charged under section 205 of Income Tax Ordinance, 2001. It may also be noted that if the return is not filed by a taxpayer even by 5th December, 2014, penalty and default surcharge will be levied w.e.f. 22-11-2014.