Report unmasks tax evasion among Pakistan leaders

Published: December 12, 2012
Report says more than 60% of Pakistan's cabinet and two thirds of its federal lawmakers paid no tax last year. DESIGN: FAIZAN DAWOOD

Report says more than 60% of Pakistan's cabinet and two thirds of its federal lawmakers paid no tax last year. DESIGN: FAIZAN DAWOOD

ISLAMABAD: More than 60% of Pakistan’s cabinet and two thirds of its federal lawmakers paid no tax last year, according to a report released Wednesday on tax evasion among the country’s political leaders.

The study entitled “Representation without Taxation” by investigative journalist Umar Cheema takes Pakistan’s elected leaders to task for paying little or no tax despite an estimated average net wealth of $882,000.

“The problem starts at the top. Those who make revenue policies, run the government and collect taxes, have not been able to set good examples for others,” said the report, likely to increase pressure on Pakistan to implement tax reform.

Pakistan has one of the lowest tax-to-GDP ratios in the world, estimated at 9.2%. Only 260,000 out of 180 million citizens have paid tax consecutively for the last three years, according to the Federal Board of Revenues (FBR).

Pakistan’s refusal to implement sweeping tax reform was instrumental in the collapse of a $11.3 billion IMF bailout programme in November 2010.

The country is one of the biggest recipients of Western aid – payouts which US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and British Prime Minister David Cameron have said are difficult to increase when Pakistan’s own elite pays no tax.

The report, which marks the launch of the Centre for Investigative Reporting in Pakistan, based its findings on information from the FBR and lawmakers themselves. It urges politicians to disclose their tax returns voluntarily in future.

According to Cheema’s findings, President Asif Ali Zardari did not file a tax return in 2011 and neither did 34 of the 55 cabinet members including Interior Minister Rehman Malik.

Information was not available for one cabinet minister.

Of the 20 cabinet ministers who did pay, most made only negligible contributions, including Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, with Rs142,536 and Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar with Rs69,619.

The cabinet member who paid the most was Water and Power Minister Ahmad Mukhtar with Rs1.09 million. Religious Affairs Minister Syed Khurshid Ahmed Shah paid the least with Rs43,333.

Among all the lawmakers in the upper and lower houses of the federal parliament, 67% failed to file tax returns in 2011; 28% did and five percent were not possible to verify, according to the report.

It also found that 78 members of parliament are still not registered with a national taxation number.


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Reader Comments (79)

  • Bilal
    Dec 12, 2012 - 3:28PM

    o GOSH what a shame !!


  • Lahori
    Dec 12, 2012 - 3:36PM

    This report should not go unnoticed.


  • Parvez
    Dec 12, 2012 - 3:39PM

    Leona Helmsly : Only the little person pays tax.
    The reason the big guys sit in parliament is to ensure laws and SRO’s are passed so that they not only don’t pay taxes but they and they alone benefit which-ever way possible……..and this is termed as democracy and practised in the name of the people.


  • Shaukat
    Dec 12, 2012 - 3:41PM

    NOw this really a lesson for the voters of PPP and PMLN, they should learn from this when voting in 2013 Election


  • Dec 12, 2012 - 3:42PM

    If golds rusts what will the iron do?


  • IZ
    Dec 12, 2012 - 3:44PM

    It should be made law that one cannot run for office unless they have filed tax returns for at least the previous 3 years in a row.


  • Muzaffar
    Dec 12, 2012 - 3:45PM

    does anyone need another reason for voting Imran Khan in the next election ??


  • Satan
    Dec 12, 2012 - 3:47PM

    Jahagir Khan Tareen comes out to be highest Tax Paying MNA of Rs. 17,053,172. Damn!


  • ABC
    Dec 12, 2012 - 3:51PM

    no stats for PTI?? why???


  • Mohammad Amin Sargana
    Dec 12, 2012 - 4:06PM

    Tax evaders have no right to rule our country. Their huge non tax paid businesses and properties should be distributed among poor people of Pakistan!


  • Dec 12, 2012 - 4:12PM

    And then, when the election time comes, these politicians (read: leeches) give passionate speeches about how much they love their country….and the cycle continues…


  • Liberal
    Dec 12, 2012 - 4:13PM

    Mushahid hussain syed the journalist turned politician paid Rs 82 ? .. Wow .. no wonder he joined PMLN :)


  • KarachiBaby
    Dec 12, 2012 - 4:14PM

    How can we expect reforms from people like this sitting in Islamabad and claiming to be champions. Shame


  • peaceeeeeeeeee
    Dec 12, 2012 - 4:18PM

    hahaahahahahah..v got looters nd beggars in our parlimenntt…shammmmeee..


  • Ali
    Dec 12, 2012 - 4:19PM

    What about the Generals!!


  • FactCheck
    Dec 12, 2012 - 4:21PM

    Tax evasion is world wide phenomena. Rich avoid taxes by sheltering their money in tax heavens like Bermuda. Big businesses like Google and Starbucks evade taxes by moving money around from country to country including tax heavens. This leaves only the white collar to pay taxes since it is deducted at the source in many countries.

    It is time for global tax reform that should include getting rid of all tax heavens in the world. All tax heavens should be banned from participating in all international organizations including the UN, IMF and World Bank. Talk about sanctions, countries with tax heavens are promoting poverty and hardship worldwide by stealing from the poor. Time to rise up and fight.


  • Mustafa Kamal
    Dec 12, 2012 - 4:24PM

    Khappay Khappay!!


  • mk
    Dec 12, 2012 - 4:26PM

    bandits. shamesless ppl. This news if accurate should be floated throughout Pakistan. These are real issues which need to be fixed. Very Good job (if accurate) on uncovering these tax evaders. The middle class ends up paying tax, bearing the brunt. My family pays taxes, pays for the electricity, generator (and its fuel), water, while these ppl enjoy their goverment perks and ‘murder’ institutions which are suppose to provide basic neccessities to to the people. What justice is this, I ask? This is a basic national duty and these ministers, politicians should be stripped off their seats if if taxes in full are not paid. It would be great if FBR can verify these #’s.
    An angry tax paying citizen.


  • waqas m
    Dec 12, 2012 - 4:27PM

    Jahangir Tareen is the HIGHEST tax payer politician of 2011


  • WB
    Dec 12, 2012 - 4:29PM

    The print media identifies these robbers and our electronic media makes them into heroes by calling them in their stupid talk shows! IK is right they are all thieves


  • Buttler
    Dec 12, 2012 - 4:34PM

    Trut me I paid more than these leader and i dont have such a levish life….. It means if i stop paying then i could be like them….Shame


  • Zain M
    Dec 12, 2012 - 4:37PM

    It is sickening ! Shame on the them. I am sure there will be loads of people other than the politicians who are not paying their dues.


  • Analyzer
    Dec 12, 2012 - 5:01PM

    @ABC: Jahangir Tarin is in PTI. Pay attention.


  • Majid
    Dec 12, 2012 - 5:03PM

    Is it true that PMLN’s Hamza Shehbaz paid most among all parliamentarians? Salute to PMLN if that is true.


  • Yiddish
    Dec 12, 2012 - 5:04PM

    Leaders know tax goes to bankers abroad so why should they pay.


    Dec 12, 2012 - 5:10PM

    Another embarassing event for Pakistan and the democracy lovers of the country the great Legislatures. So far this is what we have seen
    1 Entered the assembly by telling lies that they are graduates
    2 Entered the assembly by telling that they are not dual citizens
    3 Slapped around the polling staff if needs are not met
    4 Stolen credit cards of their friends and colleagues to buy jewellery
    5 Used father in laws security team to beat up poor bakery staff
    6 Write wills to say that after my death my heir apparent is my blood relation
    7 Think that they or their families are best to represent the masses, the rest enmass are ediots.

    And now the latest is, I will loot the country with both hands, will ask people to pay taxes and I myself will pay no tax or duties, I am above the law.
    No wonder these guys love democracy.


  • usman
    Dec 12, 2012 - 5:17PM

    @ABC: That is because PTI is not part of the Govenment/Assemblies. Yet. :)


  • usman
    Dec 12, 2012 - 5:19PM

    How anyone can still in their right mind support PML(N), PPPP, MQM, ANP and JUI(F) is beyond comprehension. I guess we vote these guys in over and over again and therefore deserve such leaders.


  • Lira
    Dec 12, 2012 - 5:31PM

    People who get elected to SERVE their country should be of high calibre, uncorruptible, have very high moral standards, behave professionally and effeciently, should have relevant qualifications and experience and even be approachable. Caste or creed is irrelevant and so is bathing in limelight, for all the wrong reasons. Remember Baroness Syeda Warsi (UK) who got seriously grilled as have the other asians who were seen to be misbehaving? Tax dodging hurts the poor, who are at the bottom of the ladder, who are trying to make ends meet, and desperately need assistance. These people seem to have the nerve to run the country as if it was their own private estate, and such activities can be seen as criminal. Even the wildlife in that country are not safe. Shameful.


  • waqas
    Dec 12, 2012 - 5:39PM

    i pay more taxes than our prime minister… and im not even a manager!!! :(
    life SuX!


  • Polpot
    Dec 12, 2012 - 5:47PM

    Democracy is the best revenge


  • Affan dawood
    Dec 12, 2012 - 5:53PM

    Mushahidullah Khan , Pervaiz Rasheed , Abid Sher ali , Khurram dastagir has paid ZERO tax , Ishaq Dar a billionare has paid only 32,000 tax . . .


  • Wajid
    Dec 12, 2012 - 5:54PM

    Always suspected that these big fat politicians are blood sucking parasites, thriving on the nation’s wealth… the very reason for their reluctance for making laws and bringing reforms to broaden the tax base. Now a well documented proof has been presented, thanks to Umar Cheema.


  • Imran Ahsan Mirza
    Dec 12, 2012 - 5:56PM

    Our leaders can’t walk the talk. They must be ditched. I believe Army is the best solution for the country with some progressive dictator like Ayub Khan to lead us out of this mess. Pakistani politicians are too immature to run a democratic system. Pakistan has no future with these parties at the helm.


  • Nasir
    Dec 12, 2012 - 6:04PM

    we all know these people and their credibility but next time same people will be there. It is not us who elect the people rather it is a selection so far. Another reason, how many people are literate in this country and know about this indignity. Majority of people lives in rural areas and they vote what they are asked to. I might be so pessimistic but unfortunately this is the reality.


  • Dec 12, 2012 - 6:09PM

    How can you pay tax when money is out of Pakistan? Please ask for the returns filed overseas.


  • asim
    Dec 12, 2012 - 6:09PM

    “No taxation without representation” strong text

    The poor people on the other hand pays taxes on Tea, Toll plaza, mobile cards, phone, electricity, water, gas etc etc.

    In developed countries / welfare states if income of an individual is low these paid taxes are returned.


  • Shahzad Sohail
    Dec 12, 2012 - 6:10PM

    Shows how sincere they are with Pakistani nation. A real Shame but they don’t feel it. Shame for the nation, who select them. POOR NATION, RICH LEADERSRecommend

  • Anserali Khan
    Dec 12, 2012 - 6:14PM

    No wonder the government wants to introduce tax amnesty scheme?.
    I hope FBR takes action against these MNAs,Senators and they are asked to pay proper taxes.
    I also hope that other government who give aid to Pakistan look at the report before sending more dollars
    I am ashamed at these members of parliament and the taxes they pay.
    For the very few who are paying proper taxes,they are discharging their tax liabilities.Thx


  • Anon
    Dec 12, 2012 - 6:22PM

    Readers, I really beg your pardon to come out in huge numbers and vote for Imran Khan PTI next year or anyone except for these animals. And then we have to make sure that these people are held accountable.
    A loyal taxpaying mediocre


  • SQ
    Dec 12, 2012 - 6:28PM

    In some private organizations in Pakistan it is a breach of the code of conduct and HR policy for an employee not to file his/her tax returns. Why arent non-filers disqualified as a first step followed by verification of filed returns. Why isnt anyone eager to take out a constitutional amendment for this or any lawyer willing to protest for this?Recommend

  • asim
    Dec 12, 2012 - 6:42PM

    This class is not from paksitan; they belong to the elite class and will never look after the rights of the poor.They have no right of representation.


  • cautious
    Dec 12, 2012 - 6:45PM

    Kudos to investigative journalist Umar Cheema for an informative report.


  • FaiselH
    Dec 12, 2012 - 6:51PM

    These are the Law Breakers, who are supposed to be Law Makers.
    The whole Nation should be Tax Exempt till the time these people pay up what is due from them. This farce, otherwise known as “Democracy”, should be done away with.
    The Ballot Papers should have a column of “None of the Above”, giving the voter his democratic right to selection,and the election result of that constituency should be decided on the basis of voter’s choice, and a re election called if the candidates are rejected, by replacing them with new candidates.


  • Terry
    Dec 12, 2012 - 7:07PM

    Generals and every other public sector and government employees gets their tax deducted at source.


    Dec 12, 2012 - 7:08PM

    Let The chief justice declare those office holders who have not submitted last 2 years income tax returns as not deserving of their offices ,provided the CJ himself has submitted the income tax returns
    Each income tax return should be scrutinized and checked thoroughly.
    The Income tax service should file cases against all those who are not paying taxes and,haul them into the court .
    What are we waiting for ?


  • Terry
    Dec 12, 2012 - 7:09PM

    This report is talking about lawmakers. How many MNAs and MPAs they have.


  • Babablacksheep
    Dec 12, 2012 - 7:15PM

    also like to know about the Judges,Big media houses and top TV anchors


  • Rafiq
    Dec 12, 2012 - 7:19PM

    These stats are for in house parties.


  • Saleem
    Dec 12, 2012 - 7:35PM

    In a real democracy like USA/UK etc etc you go to jail for not paying tax.
    In land of pure you become a MPA, MNA, minister, PM, President etc etc for doing exactly the same.
    This shows the national character and the real nature of these people who claim to be true muslims. No wonder the world has such low opinion of the country and its people. Ali babas and chaar crore tax chor.Recommend

  • Saleem
    Dec 12, 2012 - 7:48PM

    Lets not just blame the politicians. There are lots of tax chor industrialists, bureaucrats, judges, and generals as well. And dear country men the politicians did not come from Mars. They are as corrupt or as honest as the rest of the nation.Recommend

  • Mirza
    Dec 12, 2012 - 8:01PM

    It is a good start but the report does not tell the whole truth. It only talks about the elected leaders and not the losers politicians who are much worse. There should be a full report which gives complete info about all political leaders and not just “elected” leaders.


  • Nadir
    Dec 12, 2012 - 8:27PM

    Forget the politicans, have you paid your taxes?Recommend

  • H.A. Khan
    Dec 12, 2012 - 9:02PM

    I am ashamed to read the report and the way the members of parliament (do not) pay their taxes.

    What was (is) FBR doing?. Busy in issuing bogus refunds. They are equally responsible


  • Tariq Afzal
    Dec 12, 2012 - 10:09PM

    According to income tax law, Agricultural income is exempt from tax, and some more source of income is exempt from income tax. We all know that, most of the member are Agriculturist therfore, they are not paying tax. Also a lot of member, has shares in public or private limited companies, so there tax paid by the company not an individual. The above explanation is not for the support of non filer but to understand that the media tantalise half truth. They should also explain the reason for non filers or low paid tax. Why the media not publish the list of media owner, anchors and journalist? And what about the beauracrats and judges?
    Why the reporters showing there views as NEWS?


  • Sharjeel Jawaid Jawaid
    Dec 12, 2012 - 10:15PM

    It should be appreciated that our ‘elected representatives’ are priviledged to ‘receive’ taxes; not pay them!Recommend

  • FactCheck
    Dec 12, 2012 - 10:48PM


    Unfortunately US and UK are facing the same problem in a different way known as tax avoidance. The problem in both is that the Tax Avoidance practiced by rich and big corporations are perfectly legal.

    Hence, the need for global treaties. There should not be countries providing tax heavens for the rich and the corporates while the working class paying their infrastructure bills (water, sewage, roads, police, military and so forth).


  • nathan
    Dec 12, 2012 - 10:56PM

    What about Rahman Malik and Bilour? Did Rahman Malik file tax returns in UK? Did Bilour show the award bounty money ?



  • shahid
    Dec 12, 2012 - 11:07PM

    Another blessing of democracy/Lootocracy.


  • DevilHunterX
    Dec 12, 2012 - 11:17PM

    Democracy is the best revenge!


  • Saleem
    Dec 12, 2012 - 11:18PM

    Your facts are partly right. There are loopholes and hence tax avoidance (which is legal) and multinationals (starbucks, amazon) try to get out of paying tax. Name one politician, judge, general, or civil servant who has not declared his assets and has got away without paying proper tax. Tax avoidance was how they put Alcapone and Leona Helmsley in Jail. In land of the pure there is rampant corruption at every level and only the salaried class has tax deducted at source.


  • sattar rind
    Dec 12, 2012 - 11:27PM

    who pays? who are payee list they could only be due to some unavoidable reason.


  • Humayun`
    Dec 12, 2012 - 11:29PM

    @ABC: Now you realize why you are still stuck a,b,c……


  • Humayun
    Dec 12, 2012 - 11:31PM

    @ABC: You will understand why PTI is not included when you reach XYZ……


  • Naeem Asif
    Dec 12, 2012 - 11:47PM

    Mushahid Syed is the member of PML(Q)


  • Bashir
    Dec 13, 2012 - 2:08AM

    What abt Nawaz Sharif? I believe he paid impressive Rs 5000.


  • QB
    Dec 13, 2012 - 2:32AM

    Time for PTI to come and fix this maddening corruption.


  • S.Nasir Mehdi
    Dec 13, 2012 - 2:46AM

    The Supreme Court and CEC to look into the matter and the most important are voters. They should use their vote to honest and ameen persons


  • Imran Ahsan Mirza
    Dec 13, 2012 - 3:53AM

    Illiteracy is not Pakistan’s problem. Pakistani nation has slowly and gradually become an immoral bunch of people who would kill each other for money, power or religion. There are no ethics and civil values left in the society. All crimes are done in the name of God and religion. The religious leaders are more interested in politics rather spreading the good teachings of moral values of religion. People cannot differentiate between good and bad in all daily matters. The rise of dishonest practices are staggering. A country whose leaders don’t pay taxes is in fact ruled by anarchists who don’t beleive in government themselves. Pakistani democracy is a failed system due to its dishonest practitioners and must be replaced by secular and progressive dictatorship for the sake of the country. I foresee another military dictator soon replacing the current bunch.


  • asma
    Dec 13, 2012 - 5:16AM

    Why can’t we just blame the politicians? AFTER ALL, IT IS THEIR DUTY TO REPRESENT (AND LEAD!!) THE PEOPLE OF PAKISTAN!


  • rasheed khat
    Dec 13, 2012 - 8:53AM

    Jahangir Tarin is in PTI. Pay attention. well jahangir tarin in well dun PTI.


  • rasheed khat
    Dec 13, 2012 - 9:13AM

    hahaahahahahah..v got looters nd beggars in our parlimenntt…shammmmeee..


  • Khan Mohammed Hanif
    Dec 13, 2012 - 11:49AM

    Now we know why nation is poor because corrupt politicians live on tax paying citizens.
    @Shahzad Sohail:


  • Be practical
    Dec 13, 2012 - 12:24PM

    kindly read this report twice and share it with all your friends and relatives just before going for voting. I am not sure, but it might change your decision of electing these animals again.


    Dec 13, 2012 - 7:56PM



  • Dec 14, 2012 - 1:13AM

    The Senators are very disturbed and annoyed by this report and have asked some committee to look into this report|||||||||||why…… and asked FBR why this NATIONAL SECRET was not guarded? my heart sinks by this approach …to this highly shameful matter.


  • FM
    Dec 14, 2012 - 2:40AM

    Taking bhatta or income tax is the same, only the collector is different. Government should focus on wealth tax instead, where I believe the real money lies.


  • Dec 14, 2012 - 8:36AM

    @FactCheck: I guess you meant tax havens, not heavens :)


  • Jan 13, 2013 - 12:52PM

    What a nice work….
    We must learn from these figures. These corrupt politicians are the root cause of our failure in every section of life.


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