More than 100 Pakistani parliamentarians evade income tax: report
More than 100 Pakistani parliamentarians are evading income tax by not registering with the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), according to a report released Thursday.
According to the report, out of 1,170 MPs, 161 are breaking tax laws because they have not paid their due income taxes or filed tax returns. Therefore, they owe assets worth Rs 35 billion. Some of these deputies are not even registered with the tax authorities.
Official records show that these MPs are on the “list of inactive taxpayers”. Four MPs, who are not active taxpayers, have purchased properties collectively worth millions of dollars in Dubai, Norway and London over the past decade.
About ten of them had declared companies, namely construction companies, petrol pumps, etc. in the country.
In a review of official documents, at least 103 MPs have collective assets worth Rs 8 billion, but they are not actively paying their taxes, while a few dozen are not registered as FBR taxpayers.
No less than 76 of these 103 deputies come from major political parties and two hold a minister’s portfolio in the federal cabinet.
More than 30 female MPs have financial assets mostly tied to their millionaire husbands. They are not tax filers and are not even registered as taxpayers with the FBR. Nearly three dozen MPs have assets worth more than 100 million rupees each. No less than 12 deputies currently possess assets of more than 500 million rupees each. But these MPs are not active taxpayers.
The tax directory of parliamentarians for fiscal year 2018 had no tax records for approximately 323 of the total 1,170 MPs. As many as 847 MPs collectively paid around Rs 1.6 billion in taxes for the year 2018-19, according to the FBR directory. The directory contains the tax references of a total of 1,008 MPs, while the tax columns of 161 MPs were left blank and some names were missing from this important official document.
The federal government has not yet published the tax directory of deputies for the years 2019-2020 and 2020-2021. The revelations come at a time when tax authorities have launched a campaign to improve the tax net, urging citizens to share information about assets held in Pakistan or abroad.
Under tax laws, they are required to file their returns and register with the FBR. This list includes deputies from the PTI, PMLN, PPP, MQM, JWP, BAP, ANP, JI, JUI-F, JUI-F Nazriati, MMA, Pk-MAP, BNP and independent deputies.
Tax experts say the amount of income tax used to create these estimated Rs 8 billion assets must be in the millions. They estimate that taxes between Rs800 million and Rs1 billion could be generated by the authorities over the past three years.
The tax assessment suggested that if a person earning an annual taxable income above Rs 40,000 (Rs 600,000 in the case of salaried persons) is expected to file a tax return under Section 114, read with the first Schedule to the Income Tax Ordinance, 2001.
Failure to file declaration and asset declaration is a violation of Sections 114 and 116. Section 114 also stipulates the requirement to file declaration for various other criteria even if a person owns real estate of 500 SQY or a motor vehicle with a cylinder capacity above 1000CC among others.
It seems that the FBR turned a blind eye to the tax evasion of MPs. Despite Geo News’ repeated requests for comment, the FBR has chosen to remain silent on the matter. This correspondent made repeated requests via emails, WhatsApp and SMS to the FBR spokesperson who said, “We are prohibited by privacy laws.”
Ashfaq Tola, a tax expert, said, “The Income Tax Ordinance mentions the punishment of MPs who are not registered with the FBR; he has to sue these MPs because they are not registered and they are declarants. »
Tax authorities could notify such deputies under Section 111 of the Income Tax Ordinance, Tola said.
It is pertinent to note that the FBR did not review the multiple requests filed under the RTI laws by this correspondent and did not respond to the order of the Information Commission of Pakistan.