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April 26, 2019

Pleas against income support levy dismissed


April 26, 2019

LAHORE: The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Thursday dismissed hundreds of petitions challenging imposition of income support levy.

A single bench, comprised of Justice Asim Hafeez, announced its verdict on 149 petitions, including a plea filed by the Leader of Opposition in Punjab Assembly, Hamza Shahbaz, against the income support levy.

The petitioners challenging the Income Support Levy Act 2013 pleaded the Act was repugnant to Article 73 of the Constitution. They said they were registered taxpayers and also paying Zakat in accordance with the Fiqah (religious law) regularly without any default.

The petitioners’ counsels argued that their clients were issued notices for recovery of tax under the income support levy law.

They pointed out that the tax was an amount being recovered by the government to meet its public welfare targets. The federal government did not have the authority to pass any legislation on the social welfare of the public at large as social welfare had become a provincial subject after the promulgation of 18th Constitutional Amendment, they pointed out.

After the 18th Amendment, the right to legislate about the social welfare issues has been devolved to provinces. If any such legislation is to be passed, it is within the domain of the provincial legislature. The petitioners requested the court to declare recovery of the income support levy by the Inland Revenue department void.

The Inland Revenue department had sent a notice of recovery of Rs1.2 million income support levy to Hamza Shahbaz. After hearing the arguments, the court had reserved the judgment which was announced on Thursday. The income support levy was first introduced in 2013 aimed at helping the economically distressed persons and families. It faced staunch opposition from the wealthy elite of the country.

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