ISLAMABAD-The Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI) on Wednesday called for slashing 35 percent tax on rental income to 15 percent.

Tahir Abbasi, Senior Vice President, (ICCI) in a statement said that before the budget, the business community has been demanding of the government to reduce the maximum tax on rental income from 35 percent to 15 percent as it has not only increased the hardships of the business community but also encouraged tax evasion, but the government has not paid any heed to this issue in budget. He strongly demanded that during the review of the budget, the maximum rate of tax on rental income should be reduced from 35% to 15%, which would alleviate the hardships of the business community, boost business activities and improve the tax revenue of the government as well.

Tahir Abbasi said that the government has increased the withholding tax on the engineering services industry from 3% to 8% in the budget, which would affect business activities of this industry and give rise to unemployment. He urged that the government should withdraw the hike in WHT on the engineering services industry to save this sector from further troubles. He said that the engineering services industry was an important source of job creation in the country while this industry was also playing a positive role in developing skilled and professional talent to go abroad for work and increase remittances for Pakistan. However, more than 166% hike in WHT on this industry in one go would significantly affect its business, increase unemployment and cast a negative impact on the economy. He emphasized that the government should reconsider the increase in WHT on engineering services to protect it from further losses.

ICCI Vice President Saif-ur-Rehman Khan said that the government under Section 56AB of Sales Tax Act has provided FBR real-time access to information and databases of various organizations including NADRA, FIA, Bureau of Immigration and power and gas companies. However, he said that if this access was misused, it would create unnecessary harassment among the taxpayers. He, therefore, urged that the government should develop a proper check and balance system and a comprehensive mechanism should be put in place to ensure that real-time access to FBR to the information and databases of various organizations would never be used to harass the taxpayers.