LAHORE: The excise department has hired services of mobile phone companies to send reminders by SMS to vehicle owners who are defaulters of token tax.
The process will begin on Friday with SMS messages to 100,000 vehicle owners. The tax defaulters will not be fined till March 31.
The department has also issued letters to collect tax on 32,000 vehicles owned by government and semi-government departments and private companies. Excise officers have started visiting these departments and firms to collect the tax.
Among the defaulters of the token tax in government departments, Punjab Police stands first with 1,768 vehicles, while Rescue 1122 is second with 357 vehicles.
The excise department has initiated a grand operation against the defaulters of token tax, including government departments, private companies and individual owners.
The data of registered vehicles has been compiled in Lahore, which includes more than 32,000 vehicles owned by government and semi-government departments and private companies and individuals whose token tax is pending.
The Lahore Motor Branch Director has assigned the task to all Motor Registration Authorities (MRA) who are going to the departments and demanding payment of tax, while notices have also been to the owners.
Recently, MRA officer Sheikh Naeem went to the Water and Sanitation Agency (WASA) headquarters and collected Rs3 million tax dues, while another officer, Nadeem Yousuf received Rs300,000 from the police headquarters.
The Department of Agriculture, Department of Schools, National Highway Authority, Danish School Authority Health Department, Lahore High Court and district and sessions court officials are among defaulters of the token tax.
It is learnt that the Department of Excise is going to use modern technology for the collection of token tax from individual owners.
With the approval of the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), SMS will be sent through all mobile phone companies to the numbers of the vehicle owners. The department has made payment to send 100,000 messages.
The Excise and Taxation Department has collected Rs21.22 billion in taxes under the head by February 29, which is 53% of the total target of Rs39.7 billion, and despite the efforts of the authorities, the total annual collection is estimated to remain about Rs30 billion.
In terms of tax collection, Lahore Region B stands first with 71 percent recovery, while Gujranwala comes second with 65 percent.
The tax collection in Rawalpindi Region is 61 percent and Lahore Region 54 percent.
Talking to The Express Tribune, Punjab Minister of Excise and Taxation Hafiz Mumtaz said that in view of the situation of the economy as a whole, there are difficulties in tax collection but the department is working hard to achieve the target.
“We have so far collected Rs21.22 billion as compared to the collection of Rs21.77 billion in the first nine months of last year despite the economic challenges.” An effective crackdown against token tax defaulters will increase revenue, he said.
To protect the citizens from any harassment, the department has decided to send SMS on their mobile phones so that they can submit tax immediately, the minister added.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 6th, 2020.