Amnesty scheme: Rs40,000 to help tax evaders wipe a Rs5m slate clean

Published: March 6, 2013

The scheme comes in the shape of a bill changing the tax laws. DESIGN: FAIZAN DAWOOD

ISLAMABAD: 

If you have been identified as a tax evader, you can wipe the slate clean by paying Rs40,000 for income or assets up to Rs5,000,000.

The government insists this gives 3.8 million tax evaders a last chance to return to the tax net by paying the relatively small amount.

The scheme comes in the shape of a bill changing the tax laws. It was almost binned because of opposition from two key political parties, the Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) and Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM).

But then, according to sources, they softened their stance to appease urban voters, who are expected to be the main beneficiaries. The sources added that the Federation of Pakistan Chambers and Industries persuaded the MQM leadership to let the plan go through.

Thus on Tuesday, the National Assembly Standing Committee on Finance and Revenue unanimously approved the changes. The bill will now be put to the lower house of Parliament for approval before the president signs it into law.

Under the scheme, tax evaders will be asked to pay the Rs40,000 or file an appeal within three months. The beneficiaries will have to file returns for four subsequent years. If hidden income or the asset’s value overshoots the five-million-rupee threshold, the evader will have to pay an additional 1% to 1.75%.

If the identified tax evaders do not use the scheme, their Computerised National Identify Cards will be suspended for commercial transactions. Their bank accounts will be blocked and they will be barred from international travel.

It came down to a choice between catching the identified people in two years or bringing them in the tax net in two months and making pay from here onwards, argued Federal Board of Revenue Chairman Ali Arshad Hakeem. According to him, all citizens with tax liabilities, barring the 300,000 serious tax evaders, are eligible. Holders of public office as defined in National Accountability Bureau Ordinance have been excluded from the list of beneficiaries.

When the scheme was originally introduced in the standing committee, leader of the opposition, Senator Ishaq Dar, of the PML-N had vehemently opposed it, saying that the government should not usurp the right of the next Parliament.

The MQM’s Khawaja Mansoor also said his party had reservations and refused to chair the meeting of the standing committee that he headed. But then, the PPP’s Aftab Shaban Mirani proposed that the plan should be passed unanimously. This suggestion was then endorsed by PML-N MNAs Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Shireen Arshad Khan. Abbasi told The Express Tribune that his party wanted the tax base to be broadened, which was why the plan was supported.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 6th, 2013.

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Reader Comments (15)

  • Mohammad Ali Siddiqui
    Mar 6, 2013 - 9:51AM

    In Pakistan there are two type of people.

    Who do not pay tax at all,
    Who do pay tax but at the same time also evade the tax as evading tax is a pride for them.

    Unless strict action is not taken against non-taxpayers and tax evaders, the government would not be able to collect the required revenue.

    The reflection is seen in the unprecedented inflation in the country. If people will pax tax honestly, there will be less inflation.

    In conclusion, government is making loss of revenue from a common manof Pakistan instead of punishing non-tax payers and tax evaders.

    Recommend

  • Sharjeel Jawaid
    Mar 6, 2013 - 9:57AM

    A slap on the face of honest citizens who pay taxes.

    Recommend

  • Thor
    Mar 6, 2013 - 9:58AM

    This is just way to escape.How about hanging officials from lamp post?

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  • Ahmed
    Mar 6, 2013 - 10:29AM

    Someone explain to me why i have been paying taxes all these years if all it took was 40k one time payment :(

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  • Usman Lateef
    Mar 6, 2013 - 11:11AM

    Gud Scheme to bring 3.8 million evaders into tax net … once they will b in then there wud b no opportunity for them to escape 4m taxes !!!

    Recommend

  • Nasir Mahmood
    Mar 6, 2013 - 11:17AM

    An act by political parties to please their urban voters and loss will be recovered from common people by increasing prices of electricity, gas and petrol.

    Recommend

  • Baby ka Husband
    Mar 6, 2013 - 11:34AM

    This is the gimmick of all the politicians and bureaucrats who have made tons of money to come clean and not be touched by any courts of the ECP. Now everyone should ask themselves which parties benefited and not to vote for them. Do you think Pakistanis are capable of understanding this?? No, not really.

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  • Anserali Khan
    Mar 6, 2013 - 11:44AM

    FBR officials should be ashamed.They have failed the nation
    What right does an honest citizen have in this country
    Now there is even an Amnesty Scheme for non-duty paid cars.What were the Custom Officers doing when they allowed in non-duty paid cars into the country. Oh by the way in Afghanistan it is Right hand drive ie steering wheel on left side.
    I hope SCP takes Suo Moto notice of these schemes which will destroy moral fibre of the country

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  • Shakir Lakhani
    Mar 6, 2013 - 12:19PM

    This scheme will only encourage more tax-evasion. The Supreme Court should take suo moto notice and declare this scheme unlawful, as it is being promoted by those who have been looting the country for the past five years.

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  • Mohsin
    Mar 6, 2013 - 4:54PM

    The fortunate should be forced to pay tax or thrown in jail.

    Find it a bit amusing when people who do nothing for their country except eating of its soil cry for help from goverment when floods take their homes.

    Point beeing..like everwhere else. You give and you get some rule applies for less fortunate people as well.

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  • Tahir Ali
    Mar 6, 2013 - 7:15PM

    This scheme is a slap on face of tax payers
    I hope SCP takes suo moto notice of this

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  • bandgi
    Mar 6, 2013 - 10:30PM

    Corruption, Corruption , Corruption. It will increase the corruption,

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  • Ali
    Mar 7, 2013 - 1:01AM

    So, had I not paid my taxes all my life and just pay PKR 40,000 im lump sum I will not longer be a tax defaulter? Recommend

  • Jamshed
    Mar 7, 2013 - 1:56AM

    Just to save ax defaulters from being Ineligible for elections they passes the bill in second last week of assembly Wah re PMLN tera mukmuka

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  • Usman
    Mar 7, 2013 - 3:37AM

    Ridiculous, incredulous, scandalous behaviour by the government. The level of stupidity and dishonesty of the news coming from Pakistan is so high and its happening so regularly that I hardly get surprised any more. And over here in Australia, the top news the other day was that some police officer hit a drunk guy and pinned him to the ground for a few minutes.
    .
    What a joke we have let Pakistan become.

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