Politicians amongst top tax dodgers

Published: September 23, 2010
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Many legislators didn't pay a penny in income tax between 2004 and 2007.

Many legislators didn't pay a penny in income tax between 2004 and 2007.

ISLAMABAD: They have assets worth billions, yet they only pay a few thousand in taxes, if even that much.

Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, Punjab Chief Minister Shabaz Sharif, Khyber Pakhtunkhawa Chief Minister Amir Haider Hoti, Awami National Party chief Asfandyar Wali Khan, Jamiat Ulema Islam – Fazal chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman and Interior Minister Rehman Malik are some of those who did not pay a single penny in income tax in the period between 2004 and 2007.

The Express Tribune obtained the tax details of some of the country’s elected representatives from the Election Commission following a recent report saying that the assets of parliamentarians have registered a three-fold increase in six years.

According to the law, contesting candidates have to list the details of their tax returns for the last three years in the nomination papers.

Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani’s nomination papers show that while his assets are worth millions of rupees, he did not pay any income tax from 2004 to 2007.

The reason for this given by his spokesperson is that he spent most of the period in jail and thus did not pay income tax. Since becoming the prime minister, though, he has paid Rs82,000 annually, which is deducted from his salary.

Sharif, too, with declared assets in and outside Pakistan worth billions of rupees, did not pay anything to the national exchequer during the same period.

His party’s excuse is that he was in exile during that time. However, it did not share how much income tax he is paying as chief minister Punjab.Asfandyar Wali and Fazlur Rehman also did not pay any tax during the period between 2004 and 2007.  Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah, who also has declared assets amounting to billions of rupees, paid Rs8,000 in income tax in the three-year period and Rs10,000 as land revenue for the same period.

Balochistan Chief Minister Nawab Aslam Raisani paid Rs16,000 as income tax and Rs0.6 million as land revenue during the period in question.

Leader of the opposition in the National Assembly, Chaudhry Nisar Ali, and former Punjab chief minister Pervaiz Elahi, who both have assets worth billions of rupees, paid only Rs0.2 million in  income tax between 2004 and 2007.

And Rehman Malik, while he did not pay any income tax, paid a measly Rs194 as land revenue in the three years.

The Express Tribune sent requests to the country’s main political leaders, including President Asif Ali Zardari and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, seeking details of their tax returns. However, none except Gilani responded.

Presidential spokesperson Farhatullah Babar said that the president is not bound under the law to declare his assets and tax details. The Federal Bureau of Revenue refused to give details either, saying it was not allowed to make public the tax returns of any citizen, including politicians.

Economist and former commerce minister Dr Zubair Khan said that an independent commission should scrutinise the assets and tax details of the country’s rulers. “It is astonishing to see these figures,” he said. “Our rulers have no right to ask people for tax since they don’t pay any.”

Published in The Express Tribune, September 23rd, 2010.

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Reader Comments (11)

  • Aftab Kenneth Wilson
    Sep 23, 2010 - 10:20AM

    Do you have any figures on other fat cats and why you don’t write about barons of the media houses, business cartels, private institutions, Advocates (Vuqlas), Journalists/Anchor persons etc etc so on and so forth. The list is lengthy in size. Here I am not defending any politician but in fact I am in favor of going out against all who evade but don’t point your fingers only at politicians. Law is there but implementers are corrupt. Here all want to make money through hook or crook and this is where we stand and this is the only story which has unending results. Tax collectors are the most corrupt and so is Police and lower Judiciary.Recommend

  • Ali
    Sep 23, 2010 - 10:59AM

    The only class paying direct taxes fully is the salary class. instead of cracking down on tax evaders they are imposing new taxes using the name of flood surcharge. Life is becoming difficult/impossible for salary class.Recommend

  • imran
    Sep 23, 2010 - 12:25PM

    Hats off to FBR and election commission as both are a party to these tax dodgers and even help them get elected to the corridors of power. Wither PakistanRecommend

  • Eeman
    Sep 23, 2010 - 12:52PM

    Mash’Allah to that. Recommend

  • imran
    Sep 23, 2010 - 1:06PM

    Chief Justice must take a Suo Moto notice and send all these tax dodgers home.Recommend

  • hassan
    Sep 23, 2010 - 1:12PM

    This is why democracy fails!…

    Democracy has failed when zardari came to power!

    Democracy has failed when zaradari spent millions in hotel expenditure while we struggle to raise aid.

    Democracy will fail when benazir monument will be built.Recommend

  • IZ
    Sep 23, 2010 - 1:51PM

    Just to get a clearer picture, can we learn how assets have increased in this period? I just want to point out that income tax is a tax on income and not on assets, so just saying that someone has lots of assets is not enough. If assets were increasing at this time, (which means they were gaining income) while not paying income tax means they were tax dodging, while it there was no income then assets may remain high but there would be no tax to pay. I could be a billionaire and just be living off the interest on my bank accounts and since the tax is deducted from source, I would not have to pay any further tax.

    I’m not trying to excuse these folks, I’m just asking if we can get a clearer picture.Recommend

  • Hafiz shah Ali
    Sep 23, 2010 - 2:40PM

    This is a serious issue.
    As a First step the officers of FBR should be taken to task for failing in their duty. Was it not their job to bring to tax those who as per law were liable to tax.

    Let us make public all income and tax details, and assets statments of all tax filers including the civil servants. It is only then the society will wake up and look down upon those who are rich but not paying taxes.

    Why should the International world give grants to Pakistan when those inside Pakistan do not pay the taxes.
    What moral right so as to say,have members of Parliment who submitted false degrees and do not pay correct tax have to levy tax on others.

    People of Pakistan need justice,honest leaders,honest civil servents. Unless this happens,we will slide into abyss.

    We all love the country let us wake up pleaseRecommend

  • Ammar
    Sep 23, 2010 - 6:16PM

    What is PIDAT and who is the founder of this glittering institution should be enough evidence of it’s agenda. As far as tax dodgers are concerned, politicians have no copyright on this practice. One such case against a media group is in the court.Recommend

  • imran
    Sep 24, 2010 - 12:17PM

    @ Mr. Ammar himself seems to be one of the Tax Dodger, as I have always found him twisting facts and trying to add a new direction to the issue under discussion.Recommend

  • Ammar
    Sep 24, 2010 - 4:05PM

    @ Speculators are worst dodgers in every sense. This is the history of this country.Recommend

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