Federal Board of Revenue Chairman Tariq Bajwa has claimed that hundreds of thousands of people are out of tax net in the country and serious efforts are required to persuade them to pay taxes. He says that every individual who pays tax is just like a client for his department and the government officials are supposed to take care of him and facilitate him. The chairman adds that the FBR is going to introduce taxpayer cards by the end of the current month resembling the national identity cards, and that fiscal incentives for cardholders are under consideration. He says that distinction should have to be made between filers and non-filers and that the filers will get fiscal incentives over non-filers so that their contribution could be recognised.
Mr Bajwa called a spade a spade that broadening of tax net is essential for the development of the country. Tax is the money that a government collects from well-to-do persons to run the state’s affairs and more the tax revenue, more the availability of funds with the government and more the choices for it to launch infrastructural projects. No doubt industrial and economic growth of a country lies in the volume of taxes collections otherwise the government has to opt for domestic or international borrowings.
Taxpayers are given high regard in developed economies where people proudly tell the government officials, policemen or bureaucrats, that they pay taxes when anyone tries to infringe upon his rights. In Pakistan, an individual is respected on the basis of his economic condition and not on the ground that he pays taxes.
It is a good omen that the government is issuing cards and certificates to the big taxpayers in their services for the country. The prime minister has also distributed certificates and cards among 100 big taxpayers of the country and they are also given incentives.
There is very simple way to broaden tax net and curtail corruption. In all over the world, even a single shop or kiosk cannot be opened without membership of the chamber of commerce. Our shopkeepers in commercial centers earn millions of rupees per day, but they do not pay taxes. During President Musharraf’s regime, a plan was made to impose Rs 500 annual tax on the shopkeepers and they had started taking out rallies and protest demonstrations. It is true that not all the shopkeepers are well-to-do, therefore, a mechanism should be evolved to categorise them on the basis of locations and the nature of their businesses.