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February 15, 2014

A potential bombshell Tax Directory to be out today

February 15, 2014

ISLAMABAD: The government will release the Tax Directory of all the 1,174 lawmakers on Saturday for the first time in history after a couple of reports unmasked tax evasion by the political class and the majority was found either not filing tax returns or without National Tax Number (NTN).
Although, the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has repeatedly extended the deadline for filing tax returns that expired for general public on November 30, 2013, at least 10 percent or close to 120 lawmakers had not filed returns till Friday evening, the last working day.
The FBR confirmed to The News that tax data of all members will be uploaded today afternoon on its website. “So far, 1,052 lawmakers have filed tax returns,” Shahid Asad, a spokesman of the FBR, told The News. There are 1,174 sanctioned seats for the Senate, National Assembly and four provincial assemblies. Two of them are vacant at the moment. So out of 1,172 lawmakers, 89.76 percent have filed returns and the rest are still tax defaulters. Non-compliance of tax laws came
under spotlight for the first time when our report found 67 percent MNAs and senators failing to file tax returns in 2011. Included among them were 90 such lawmakers who did not have NTNs. Our follow-up report on taxes of 2012 expanded its scope to the provincial assemblies only to determine that 47 percent lawmakers (out of 1,070 MNAs and MPAs) didn’t pay tax and 53 percent those claimed having paid included among them a sizeable number of members whose assertion in this respect was denied by the FBR record.
Again, there were 123 lawmakers (11 percent) who were not registered for NTN.The reports created a lot of resonance within Pakistan and outside. A few in the FBR, meanwhile, remained busy saving the skins of lawmakers denying their own record by stating at different public forums that lawmakers were regular taxpayers. The minister took a radical decision when he announced to release a tax directory of all the lawmakers

and other citizens registered in the tax net, a move greeted with skepticism as many thought it would not be done.
Dar remained persistent resisting all kinds of pressures applied on him to reverse the decision. Dar had announced that there would not be any lawmaker without an NTN after January 31, ordering the FBR to register them by hook or by crook, saying consecutive reports in this regard earned him embarrassment during meetings with donor countries.
He also set a deadline of February 15 for the Tax Directory of lawmakers that is being done without any further extension for filing tax returns. Likewise, a deadline of March 31 has been fixed for the tax directory of all citizens registered with the tax authorities.
Although, the business community tried to pressurise Dar into submission, he refused to bow before their demand.
The case in point is the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry that demanded reversal of decision as he went to address there.
Categorically rejecting their proposal, he instead sought their help to expose the tax evaders, saying naming such criminals would improve the tax culture in Pakistan.

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