Wednesday October 04, 2023

Govt set to announce package for traders

Annual tax returns filing may pick up pace

November 15, 2015
KARACHI: The process to file income tax returns is likely to pick momentum in the remaining days of the current month, as the government is set to announce a package for traders on the issue of withholding tax on non-cash banking transactions.
Around 275,000 income tax returns have been received till October 31, which were much lower than the expectations. Taxpayers have identified multiple reasons for slow response, including problems on the online portal of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR).
However, tax experts said that one of the reasons is the ongoing issue of imposition of withholding tax on non-cash banking transactions between the taxpayers and the government.
Tax authorities have repeatedly convinced the traders to file their income tax returns for the tax year 2014, as the withholding tax was introduced only for non-filers.
In the Federal Budget 2015/16, Section 236 P was inserted to the Income Tax Ordinance, 2001, under which the non-filers were liable to pay 0.6 percent on non-cash banking transactions of over Rs50,000 per day.
The withholding tax; however, has been reduced to 0.3 percent through the presidential ordinance and then the decision of the Economic Coordination Committee of the Cabinet and is expiring on November 15.
Following traders' protests, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar issued directives to constitute committees for the resolution of the tax matters regarding withholding tax.
In this regard, communication, income tax and sales tax committees were constituted, which comprises senior officials of the FBR and stakeholders from the business community and legal fraternity.
The purpose of setting up the committees was to resolve the issues pertaining to the income tax and sales tax and to evolve an effective communication strategy on educating the public, specifically traders on the rationale of the tax measure, withholding tax for documentation of economy and broadening the tax base, a notification issued by

the FBR said.
The deadline for submitting final proposals by these committees on the withholding tax is also November 15.
Tax experts expressed the hope that the government would find a way out following the proposals received from these committees.
In a recent meeting stakeholders and FBR officials agreed on a 28-point strategy, which will be presented to the finance minister for final approval.
The FBR assured the business community that it would not hold back any proposal agreed between the two parties.
The tax experts said that after the announcement of the package by the government, the filing of income tax returns is likely to speed up, as many taxpayers are waiting for simplified returns form. The FBR had already extended the last date to file the annual tax returns three times on the request of the taxpayers from August 31 and September 30 to October 31 and November 30.
Regarding the FBR e-portal, IRIS, most of the irritants have been resolved by the authorities for smooth registration and filing of the income tax returns.
“There are still some issues on the e-portal, but overall it is accepting the returns,” Muhammad Zubair, president of the Karachi Tax Bar Association, said.
He; however, said that the FBR should take the stakeholders on board before finalisation of the income tax returns and launching any software in order to avoid difficulties that were faced by the taxpayers during the last three months.
The FBR could be able to receive 975,000 income tax returns for the tax year 2014 with the help of broadening the tax base efforts and administrative measures, but the numbers are still much lower, considering the size of the population of the country.