OUT of the government's decision to bring four new sectors under the tax net, one only has to look at the first to realise that the announcement should be taken with a pinch of salt. Though taxing the other three i.e services, real estate and stock market all present their own unique problems, it is the imposition of an agricultural tax that is going to be the least likely. The amount of political will that particular tax requires is greater than what the most stable of governments - and this government is anything but - can muster. The lustre of the additional one trillion rupees that the adviser on finance Shaukat Tarin claims will yield would distract us from the difficulty in bringing these across. Let us look at the services sector first. Lawyers, doctors, engineers, architects and other knowledge workers across the country ply their particular trades without their being any tax on their services. The problem with a tax would be, first, that of enforcement, which needs no explanation. But it is not a simple matter of collecting this tax better; for if indeed, the income tax officials do a good job on this front, these practitioners will transfer these additional sums to their clients. That doesn't sound like too bad a proposition when it comes to architects, but a rise in doctors' fees or even that of lawyers', wouldn't bode well for the poor public. However, the fact that these professionals cheat heavily on their income taxes also presents an opportunity. These professionals could be granted refunds against their service tax upon the presentation of transaction receipts. This way, at least the quantum that goes away in income tax fraud could be saved. As far as real estate tax is concerned, it is a no-brainer. If it does indeed bring about an increase in the costs of constructing a house, so be it. The home-owners already face a steady increase in this cost due to the increases in raw material prices; if they yield a little more for the exchequer, it won't be as bad as higher doctor's fees. In operational terms, taxing the stock market would be the easiest of the four: this sector, unlike the others, has a pretty centralised platform that acts as the market. It is therefore easy to impose a capital gains and value tax. The only problem that the detractors can point out is that since our financial capital markets are not too well developed, the taxes would serve as a disincentive against investing here. True, but on the plus side, this tax would help in getting the speculators out of the market and keep only medium to longterm investors. If an agricultural tax is actually imposed, there is a way to ensure it doesn't translate into higher prices: impose the tax only on larger landowners. Agricultural markets, being nearest to text book "perfect competition", will not result in high prices. The real test, as always, is the political will.