The failure of 76000 Sindh government officials to file their income tax returns as revealed by the Federal Board of Revenue on Sunday, reflects the current state of tax collection in the country perfectly. Even members of the government cannot fulfil their basic tax responsibilities; it is no wonder then that the state cannot get the rest of the country to follow suit.

With taxable salaries, the failure to file tax returns can only mean that the officials in question either do not take their duty in filing returns seriously, or they are simply not aware of the importance of this exercise – neither option is particularly positive in this case. The government’s taxation drive has not yielded the right results if its own employees are neglecting to do what needs to be done.

76000 individuals within the Sindh government can only avoid filing returns because the system allows them to; the government needs to provide for more of a deterrent for avoiding filing one’s returns. Awareness is another issue that the government must work on; why filing returns is important, how it can be done and providing for organisations to make sure that their employees are doing this with due diligence is the only way to ensure that everyone in the service industry, including those in government institutions document and file returns for their taxable incomes.

Governments, both provincial and federal must ensure that they lead the charge in ensuring that the economy is documented, and more people make their earnings completely transparent. The accountability drive is of no use if the state cannot even get its own house in order.