Whatever measures previous PML-N government took in its last budget to bring the tax evaders into tax net has been taken back by PTI government in the mini budget. The PTI government succeeded to pass the money bill from national assembly, despite the protest from opposition. The PTI government allowed the non-filers to buy cars and property beyond the certain limit. The withdrawal of restrictions did not send an encouraging signal to the tax payers of this country.
It seems that government succumbs to the pressure exerted by powerful real estate and auto sectors.The reversal of measures taken to increase tax collection and to widen the tax net will result in the fall of revenue. It also means that the culture of tax evasion will continue to flourish under PTI government. The measures introduced in the money budget by Finance minister Asad Umar has disappointed many people who believed that PTI will come hard on tax evaders.
Non-filers do not pay income tax nor do they file tax returns. By law, they should be punished. Instead, they are allowed to pay just 0.6% taxes on the amount they spend to buy property or vehicles, or when they withdraw more than Rs50, 000 from banks. So continue to enjoy the benefits of tax evasion.
On the one hand, tax payers are paying more than 30% income as taxes but all those who evade taxes continue to enjoy amnesty. Why then people should join the tax net and pay taxes when they can evade billions in taxes. This approach of the government discourages people to pay tax and encourage tax avoidance and evasion.
In any event, businessmen alone cannot be blamed for the revenue shortfall faced by the nation. All governments (including the present one) are responsible for our predicament. There are many reasons for why we are a poor country, the first and foremost being the blanket financial immunity given to smugglers, agriculturists, unscrupulous importers, traders and others to loot the country.
The same goes for our big land lords and feudal lords, who are exempted from paying income tax at all, despite having access to virtually free water and having huge loans written off every few years. The biggest crooks amongst them are the sugar barons who are easily able to get elected to our assemblies and use their power to continue looting the nation.
It’s the same old story. Those who are rich and powerful remain free, while the houses of the poor are demolished without even adequate notice. As for corruption, this government appears to be like a fish out of water. It is estimated that corruption in the country amounts to Rs12 billion per day. It’s been almost seven months now since PTI came to power, yet they’ve done nothing to stop this corruption. If they had, there wouldn’t have been a revenue short fallin the first place. The issue is not as simple as PTI and Imran Khan presented it before the people. Half-hearted measures and policies will not solve this serious problem. Government should discourage the culture of amnesty for the tax evaders. Don’t let them have a last laugh.
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23 March, 2019