LAHORE    -   The Lahore Chamber of Commerce & Industry on Tuesday welcomed Chairman Federal Board of Revenue Shabbar Zaidi’s directive to the field formation regarding not attaching bank accounts without prior intimation to taxpayers.

LCCI President Almas Hyder said that prior approval of Chairman for attaching bank account was a step in the right direction. He said that the decision would go a long way as attachment of bank accounts was promoting parallel economy. He hoped that high number of taxes and change in mode of payments would be the top priorities of Chairman FBR as rectification in these areas was a must to relieve the pressures from the businesses. He said that Pakistan stands at 173rd in the international ranking of paying taxes. According to the World Bank Report, Pakistani businessmen pay 47 taxes in a year as compared to Hong Kong 3, UAE 4, Ireland 9, Malaysia 8, India 13 and Sri Lanka 36 and these were those countries Pakistan has to compete with.

While giving a break-up, Almas Hyder said that one company, operating on four provinces in Pakistan, makes 5 payments of corporate Income Tax in a year, 12 payments of Employer paid-Pension Contributions, 12 payments of Social Security contribution, 1 payment of education cess, 1 payment of property tax, 1 payment of professional tax, 1 payment of vehicle tax, 1 payment of stamp duty, 1 payment of fuel tax and 12 payments of goods and sales tax.

He said that taxes were must to run the affairs of the government but these should be imposed according to the ground realities. He demanded that monthly frequency of tax payments related to Employees Old Age Benefit Institution (EOBI) and Punjab Employees Social Security Institution (PESSI) and provincial sales tax must be reduced to once a year.

He said that professional and property tax should be clubbed together. Likewise, federal and provincial sales tax should also be clubbed together.

Almas Hyder said that all tax payments should be accepted through credit card, debit card, direct debit or using internet/mobile banking.

LCCI Senior Vice President Khawaja Shahzad Nasir and Vice President Faheem-ur-Rehman Saigal suggested that refunds ranging from Rs10 million to Rs50 million should be instantly released while all the backlog should be cleared within two months upon the filing of returns. They said that electronic filing and online payment should be made mandatory for all departments. Risk-management system should be improved to reduce the number of physical audits.

They said that implementation of these measures would not only reduce the burden on existing taxpayers but would also encourage new ones to come into the tax net.