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Income tax revenue from telecom services fall 85pc to Rs4.4bln in Jul-Jan

March 12, 2019

KARACHI: The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has logged more than four billion rupees in tax collection from telecommunication services in the first seven months of the current fiscal year, although a Supreme Court’s ban on taxation on pre-paid mobile phone cards noticeably weighed the revenue down, sources said on Monday.

Sources said the FBR managed to collect Rs4.4 billion in income taxes on telecom services despite restriction imposed by the Supreme Court of Pakistan on deduction of taxes from mobile phone subscribers.

Cumulative collection of income tax from telephone users amounted to Rs28.85 billion in the July-January period of the last fiscal year, according to official statistics. The collection of advance tax has two components: telephone subscribers and mobile phone prepaid card subscribers.

The FBR collects the tax under a section (236) of Income Tax Ordinance 2001. A 10 percent tax is imposed on telephone subscribers on monthly bill above Rs1,000. Similarly, in case of subscribers of internet, mobile telephone and pre-paid internet or telephone card the tax rate of 12.5 percent is applicable on the amount of bill or sale price.

In June last year, the apex court barred mobile phone network providers and FBR from collection of advance tax on pre-paid cards. The Supreme Court issued the order while observing the tax was ‘exploitative and illegal’.

Later in October 2018, the apex court continued the suspension of the collection of advance tax and other service charges till the new legislation. The court observed that the consumers were paying around 36 percent taxes and service charges on Rs100 pre-paid mobile phone card.

Before the suspension, the consumers were liable to pay 10 percent service charges collected by phone companies, 10 to 12.5 percent to the federal government and 19 percent as sales tax on services to provincial governments.

The FBR said the collection of advance tax on telephone subscribers declined 21.5 percent to Rs3.75 billion during July – January 2018/19.

The collection from pre-paid phone cards was Rs635 million during the period under review compared with Rs24.06 billion in the corresponding period of the last fiscal year, posting a decline of 97.4 percent.

The FBR has lost around Rs24.46 billion in aggregate from collection under the head during the current fiscal year. The withholding tax collection from phone services was the fifth largest revenue spinner. The FBR collected Rs47.38 billion during 2017/18 compared with Rs51.77 billion in the preceding fiscal year, showing a decline of 8.5 percent.