LAHORE - The All Pakistan Anjuman-e-Tajiran has lauded the National Assembly for approving Tax Amnesty Bill with a majority, which has now become an Act.

APAT central general secretary Naeem Mir, addressing a press conference at Lahore Press Club, blasted the opposition parties, which according to him consist of NAB-tainted politicians, land mafias, black money holders, Pirs and feudal lords, for opposing Voluntary Tax Compliance Scheme for small traders, aimed at enhancing tax net in the country.

He asked the FBR to also impose tax on the income of shrines which amounted to millions annually, demanding to depute tax officials at each shrine to asses the huge income of custodians of these shrines who are also feudal lords.

It is unfortunate that Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Khurshid Shah and MQM leaders opposed the amnesty scheme but they never demanded tax on agri incomes of landlords of South Punjab and Sindh. “Shah Mehmood Qureshi earns millions of rupees through his shrine and never paid tax on this earning. All opposition parties leadership is involved in money laundering and land grabbing cases, having black money of billions of rupees,”he alleges. Traders have no black money, as they earn it with hard work, Mir said.

Naeem Mir said that if opposition parties moved to the court the traders will also fight ‘for the cause of increasing tax to GDP ratio’.

Naeem Mir said that small traders will benefit from the Income Tax (Amendment) Bill 2016, which will encourage the non tax filers to come in tax net besides increasing the tax filers number from 700,000 to 1.7 million as per commitment by business community during the dialogue with government.

“We had made hectic efforts for reaching consensus with traders with expectation that 0.5 million would come into the tax net and will become filers.”

He said that the tax amnesty scheme will revive the confidence of traders on tax system and the government efforts to facilitate the business community. The reforms in tax system will encourage the local and international investment in the country.

He said the government has taken positive step to evolve the conducive business environment and save the local small business traders in the country.

APAT general secretary said the tax amnesty scheme has been proposed by the business community to persuade the non tax filers to file their tax returns.

“We are committed to increase the number of taxpayers and enhance the tax base for economic growth and prosperity in the country,” he said.

He said that first time in country’s history, the current government has carried steps to benefit the small traders and revive their confidence on tax system.

Before this scheme, only 700,000 tax filers were filing their tax returns out of total 200 millions population of the country, which needed more than one million increase to enhance the tax to GDP ratio, he said. He said that after the new tax amnesty scheme only direct tax would encourage the traders to file their tax returns accordingly.

He said that 3.5 million traders were registered in WAPDA record and only 200,000 are paying their taxes.

“We particularly need to educate the traders about benefits of filing tax returns and revive their confidence on tax system of the country.” he said.