During a meeting of National Finance Commission, Federal Minister for Finance Dr Abdul Hafeez Sheikh formed a committee of provincial Finance Ministers for the collection of agricultural income tax. Since the collection of agricultural tax is a provincial step, it is hoped that this step would yield positive results. Agriculture is the mainstay of the economy, yet it is a shame that the tax returns during the past few years have been registering a steady decline. And a major reason has been the rampant corrupt practices in the provincial revenue departments, including notably the patwari. The patwari system is in dire need of reform if the agricultural tax is to be collected in a transparent manner. Also it is a fact that a majority of parliamentarians are rich landlords who complicate the task of tax collection because the authorities are powerless in front of them. Successive governments have in the past imposed agricultural income taxes but it is this class of the landed elite that has been evading the taxes. Pitiably, it is the poor farmers who pay their taxes and at the end of the day, they do not even get the basic services and facilities from the government like uninterrupted water supply. Besides, they also have to cope with high prices of inputs like fertiliser and diesel. The focus should be on devising a system of taxation in which there is little or virtually no taxation up till certain acreage so as to give relief to small farmers who in fact are the backbone of the sector. The focus of the entire effort should be to bring the feudal lords into the tax net and those who are already in it to collect tax from them. Also the federal as well as the provincial governments need the will to make that happen. This is the class that has been evading taxes religiously all our existence. They were clever enough to dodge the land reforms enforced during Ayub and Bhuttos tenures. At this point in time, any serious effort to tax the rich farmers would of course be met with strong resistance. This must be bulldozed by the authorities in line with the dictates of law. The government would be able to collect the much-needed amount to cover the fiscal gap for which it has to often knock at the doors of lenders with embarrassingly high frequency. Simultaneously it must be ensured that the small farmers are empowered, not further burdened.