ISLAMABAD - The government’s drive of broadening tax base of the country has slowed down as the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) issued notices to 3500 non-taxpayers so far.

The PTI led government had announced to broaden the tax base of the country by bringing non-taxpayers into tax net. However, it had so far adopted slow pace for issuing notices to the non-taxpayers as the FBR issued only 3500 tax evaders. “The pace of issuing does not matter, as we are working to identify the strongly pursuing large tax evaders,” said an official of the FBR.

He informed that FBR had identified some 20,000 high net-worth non-filers. He said that FBR had collected data of 150,000 foreign accounts maintained by Pakistan’s residents from 29 countries under a multilateral convention on exchange of tax-related information. The government had given several chances to non-taxpayers to file their tax returns by extending the deadline, which was expiring yesterday (Saturday).  “The government has decided to pursue those who had not filed their income returns despite enjoying facilities,” he added.   

The government had decided to start action against all those tax evaders who have purchased properties of over Rs 20 million, or purchased 1800 CC or larger engine cars, or received rent to the tune of Rs 10 million or more in a year but not bothered to file their tax returns; therefore not in the list of taxpayers. The drive for the recovery of tax from these big tax evaders is being launched across Pakistan without any discrimination. All such tax evaders have been identified by the FBR and are being proceeded against for recovery of payable tax besides being subjected to heavy fines and penalties for failing to fulfil their tax obligations.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) in its recent talks held with Pakistan had expressed dissatisfaction over the FBR’s drive to broaden the tax base through issuing notices to high net worth value individuals. The IMF had also asked the government for increasing the FBR’s tax collection by Rs100 billion to materialise the real potential of the tax collection machinery.

Meanwhile, the FBR has allowed filing of Income Tax returns until 17th December 2018 because of the weekend failing on 15th December which was previously announced as the deadline for filing of returns, says a statement issued by the FBR.

The statement issued by the Official Spokesperson FBR says that a number of queries have been received about extension of last date of filing of return but the return filing date is not being extended any further. However, since the last date of filing of return falls on a non-working day, hence as per General Clauses Act the closing date for filing of Income Tax returns falling on 15th December 2018 as per previous announcement is automatically extended to next working day i.e. Monday the 17th of December. The tax offices will be extending help in filing of returns on Monday till close of office hours and the returns will be received electronically till 12 midnight.

Moreover, the Commissioners are also authorized to grant extension for a period up to 15 days on case-to-case basis. Although the receipt of return will not be blocked after due date, yet as per existing law, the names of persons who fail to file return by the closing date (or by the date extended by the Commissioners) will not be put on the Active Taxpayers List.