LAHORE - The Lahore High Court on Saturday was requested through a writ petition to strike down luxury tax on residential houses by declaring it discriminatory and inconsistent.

Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah will hear the petition, moved by Khawaja Muhammad Akram through Barrister Mian Bilal Ahmad and Barrister Qadir Bakhsh, on July 29 (Monday).

The petitioner has made the federal government and the Punjab Excise Department respondents to the writ petition. According to the petitioner, the Punjab government, through Section 10 of The Punjab Finance Act, 2013, has imposed a newfangled luxury tax on residential houses measuring two kanals and above, located in a rating area specified as Category A for the purposes of the Punjab Urban Immovable Property Tax Act, 1958.

He stated the impugned tax derided articles 4, 8, 23, 24 and 25 of the Constitution and was discriminatory in both nature and effect. He said: “The impugned luxury tax was ostensibly imposed only in three districts of Punjab.”

He added the tax had been imposed on the houses located in the rating area specified as Category A of the Excise and Taxation Department, but did not include the Cantonment areas, EME Society, Defence Housing Authority (DHA), Defence RAYA, Lake View, Bahria Town and Jati Umra as these were anachronistically and ironically considered as “rural areas”.

By excluding these areas, the respondents had clearly committed discrimination and unfair treatment, the petitioner said, praying to the court to strike down the impugned tax which was both discriminatory and whimsical.

“It presumes that every individual owning a residential house of two kanals or above will, in a perfunctory sense, be able to pay the impugned luxury tax. May it be a house built in 1960s by a senior citizen, a low-scale pensioner or a retired employee, all are to be taxed,” the petitioner pointed out.

The petitioner maintained that the Punjab government, by virtue of the Punjab Urban Immovable Property Tax Act, 1958, continued to levy and collect property tax payable on the annual value of the property as is subjectively assessed by the assessing authority.

This amount is assessed after following a certain procedure, which includes inviting objections from all and sundry, the petitioner stated, adding this amount is compulsorily exacted from the citizens and, unless exempted, all immovable properties are taxable.

He stated the payment of an additional tax, noticeably called a luxury tax on houses (when they are a necessity and not a luxury) amounts to double taxation which is prohibited by law.

The petitioner prayed to the court to abolish the luxury tax on residential houses by declaring it discriminatory and inconsistent.