In an effort to document black economy in phases, the government has decided to gradually enforce the condition of declaring national tax numbers or identity card numbers at the time of bulk purchases.
In this regard, the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has amended existing rules and added a chapter to Sales Tax Rules of 2006. According to a statutory regulatory order issued here on Friday, the condition will gradually be enforced from March to July this year.
In the first phase beginning March 1, all manufacturers, importers and exporters have been asked to make minimum 60% of their sales to identifiable persons having either sales tax registration number, national tax number (NTN) or computerised national identity card (CNIC).
While there are no official estimates of the size of the black economy, independent experts and former tax officials put the figure in the range of 50 to 60% of the total size of formal economy. For the current fiscal year, the projected size of national economy is Rs21.04 trillion, according to the finance ministry.
The government had earlier tried to enforce the NTN/CNIC condition from July 2011 but fierce opposition from businesses forced it to defer the plan to January 2012. Now, it has decided to fully implement the much talked about condition by July this year.
An official of the FBR said the purpose of gradual implementation was to facilitate the industry and now this condition would also be applied to the sugar industry, which had earlier been granted exemption.
However, retail supplies will remain exempted. According to the notification, manufacturers-cum-retailers and importers-cum-retailers making retail sales to unregistered persons will not be required to provide CNIC number or NTN to the extent of retail sales, which will be separately shown in sales tax return.
The notification further states that provisions of the newly added chapter will be applied to registered manufacturers, importers and exporters while making taxable, dutiable or exempted supplies to unregistered persons.
The FBR has asked all registered manufacturers, importers and exporters to issue an invoice containing NTN or CNIC number of the buyers. The sellers will be bound to declare 60% sales to identifiable persons in March. In April, the ratio will increase to 70%, in May 80%, June 90% and in July all sales will be made to identifiable persons only.
Currently, only 146,000 traders have sales tax registration numbers while less than 100,000 regularly file returns.
The notification states that if any registered person gives an NTN or CNIC number, which is not verified from the FBR’s database or database of the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA), such person will have to pay a penalty of Rs5,000 or 3 per cent of the amount of tax involved, whichever is higher. The amount would be considered as arrears against the supplier.
Furthermore, all payments of the amount for transactions will be made by the buyers through bank instruments.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 25th, 2012.