Tax evasion: Textile sector to be offered amnesty

Published: March 29, 2011

Government tries desperate schemes to widen tax net.

ISLAMABAD: 

Days after backtracking on its attempt to tax the textile sector, the government is planning to offer an amnesty scheme for sales tax evaders in that industry in an attempt to broaden the tax base.

Sources inside the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) say that the federal government is in the final stages of putting together an amnesty scheme that is largely directed towards tax evaders in the textile sector.

In return for registering with the FBR, the government is likely to not ask any questions from tax evaders about the sources of their income used to finance their start-up costs or the size of their past revenues. Several businessmen have been reluctant to register legitimate concerns with tax authorities for fear of having to explain the source of their initial investment, which can sometimes come from questionable means.

FBR officials expect to register at least another 70,000 entities as sales tax payers through the amnesty. The current number of businesses registered to pay sales tax is 131,000, of which 99,000 are active taxpayers. The sales tax amnesty comes against the backdrop of an FBR campaign to take action against over 700,000 people suspected of evading income taxes.

Amnesty schemes are often regarded as a “moral hazard,” rewarding people for bad behaviour by legitimising their illegal activities and taking away the incentive from law-abiding taxpayers to stay within the law.

Critics point out that the government had considered a similar scheme two months ago but dropped the idea after encountering opposition from a member of the Inland Revenue Service.

The government launched a tax amnesty scheme two years ago which yielded only Rs2 billion in revenues but had the effect of bringing in Rs50 billion in assets from the undocumented to the documented segment of the economy.

Proponents of the amnesty claim that the additional revenues from the scheme will offset the revenue losses that the government is likely to bear after lowering sales tax rates on the textile sector from 17 per cent to between four per cent and six per cent.

The textile sector had previously been exempt from sales taxes but was brought back into the tax net through a presidential ordinance 12 days ago. The lowering of the rates is seen as a major retreat by the government in the face of pressure from the textile lobby, widely regarded as one of the most powerful in the country.

FBR officials admit that the lowering of tax rates on the textile sector will cost the government about Rs6.5 billion.

Textile industry sources say that they have been assured by the government that tax rates will be six per cent on cotton yarn and lower-order goods and four per cent of further value-added textiles. FBR officials say that unregistered businesses will not be eligible to apply for tax refunds, in an attempt to incentivise registration.

Some former government officials were pessimistic about the government’s ability to levy the taxes, given the capacity constraints at the FBR and suggested that tax evasion would remain rampant.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 29th, 2011.

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Reader Comments (7)

  • faroug akhtar
    Mar 29, 2011 - 10:01AM

    why is it that it is only the salaried class which is running this country? the shopowners & businessmen don’t pay any income taxes,these people don’t even have any ideo of what income tax is .

    The govt. has once again surrendered before the blackmail of the business sector.their tax has been reduced from 17 % to 4% while the salaried people will have a full 15% deducted from their salaries automatically so this country can continue to function.

    for how long will the retailers & businessmen keep on living off the earnings of the salaried class??

    dukandaro muft ka khana choro aur income tax dena seeko.kab tak tankhadaar tabka tum logo ko palta rahayga????Recommend

  • KR
    Mar 29, 2011 - 10:18AM

    We don’t have any money and according to “”"”FBR officials admit that the lowering of tax rates on the textile sector will cost the government about Rs6.5 billion”"”"” so are we going to take out a third loan from IFM since we can’t find a way to pay for the first loan??? This government is a joke.

    I guess 10% of Rs6.5 billion is whole lot of money and will definitely come in very handy for self imposed exile in near future. And remember you can’t take it with you and one day everybody has to answer for their own action and GOD doesn’t care which political part you belong to ??? Think about it Recommend

  • Texed
    Mar 29, 2011 - 12:27PM

    Great I am in the wrong business should have been a textilewala not pay any tax and cry how bad my business is while enjoying a first class lifestyle hypocrisy of these never ceases to amaze me!
    Idiot me now has to pay further flood relief tax should be named give relief to textile guy to buy his new sports car tax.Recommend

  • a ercelan
    Mar 29, 2011 - 1:08PM

    a good incentive for tax would be to borrow the deposit-loan scheme of banks – offer half back as loan at zero interest rate and get a return thru future tax on the loan. min tax would be simple to project from currrent investment-tax ratioRecommend

  • Hammad Siddiqui
    Mar 29, 2011 - 1:55PM

    Unjustified and unfortunate!Recommend

  • Meekal Ahmed
    Mar 29, 2011 - 2:57PM

    An amnesty is the worst thing you can possibly do! It is a slap in the face of the honest tax-payer. It is a travesty. And, above all, it has never worked.

    On the lower new tax rates, this is again a government in retreat. This entire year the government has been going backwards in economic decision-making. Recommend

  • ba ha
    Mar 29, 2011 - 4:16PM

    AMNESTY YES! but after 5 years “re-training & re-education” in Balouchi prison along with their banker buddies for companyRecommend

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