ISLAMABAD - Number of income tax filers has drastically reduced during current tax year despite the fact that federal government extended the deadline for filing returns several times.

“Only 1,075,000 people filed their income tax returns on the last day (Friday) of filing returns,” said an official of the Federal Board of Revenue. He informed that government is not giving further extension in date for filing the returns, saying it had already given four to five extensions.

The number of filing returns is less as compared to the previous year when 1,216,614 people had filed their returns. Against a registered 4.3 million people, around 1.1 million filed their income and an assets statement is showing weak enforcement of the tax department.

The original date for filing tax returns for individuals, association of persons (AOPs) and companies was September 30, which was initially extended for one month and then till November 15 and by the end of November. Later, the deadline for further extended up to December 15 in the hope of matching last year’s performance. However, the FBR failed to reach the last year number.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has recently asked Pakistan to focus on revenue collection, broadening of tax net as tax collection has been very low from many years; however, during the tenure of present government tax to GDP ratio has improved from 10 percent to 12 percent. The Fund said that their significant potential as there is potential of 22 percent growth in the revenue collection.

Pakistan Tax Bar Association (PTBA) had urged the federal government to extend the last date for filing income tax return up to December 20, 2017 in order to maximize the number of filers through outreach program launched by Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and to facilitate the existing taxpayers.