ISLAMABAD: The government has failed to bring all members of parliament into the tax net as 97 legislators did not file their tax returns on a voluntary basis in the tax year 2017.
Under the Income Tax Ordinance, the filing of returns is mandatory for all those who possess a 1,000cc car, a plot of 250 square yards or a 2,000-square-foot apartment in the area of any municipal corporation. By this definition, it appears that all parliamentarians are liable to file tax returns.
Federal Board of Revenue’s (FBR) spokesperson and Member Policy Inland Revenue Dr Hamid Ateeq said that his department is reviewing the published data to identify the legislators who did not file their returns. “We will issue notices to them in case they do not file their tax returns,” he said.
The tax was also deducted at source from the legislators’ salaries. However, he was not aware if the lawmakers who did not file the returns were on the tax roll. He said there may be some legislators who have agriculture income and as a result, the filing of return is not mandatory for them.
The question of whether the non-filers have paid their taxes will become clear when they submit their returns.
The first tax directory of parliamentarians was published in 2013, following a demand from all quarters to bring them under the tax regime.
Since then, the FBR has established special units at the National Assembly and provincial assemblies’ secretariats to facilitate legislators in the filing of their returns.
In the tax year 2016, the number of non-filing legislators was 197. A similar trend was observed since the FBR issued the tax directory.
The minimum penalty for not filing returns and wealth statements is Rs5,000 fine and it can be as high as 25pc of the tax payable in a year. The non-filer has to declare his total income for assessment or a tax official declares it ex parte.
According to the tax directory, six senators did not file their tax returns for 2017 as against 12 in 2016.
As many as 17 members of the National Assembly (MNAs) did not file their tax returns in 2017 as against 45 MNAs in 2016. As many as 74 members of the provincial assemblies (MPAs) did not file their tax returns in the tax year 2017 as against 110 MPAs in the tax year 2016.
From the Balochistan assembly, four MPAs did not file their returns in the tax year 2017 as compared to eight in the previous year.
In the KP assembly, 17 MPAs did not file their returns in tax year 2017 as against 36 in the previous year. As many as 30 MPAs remained non-filers in Punjab in 2017 as against 44 in 2016. From the Sindh assembly, there were 23 non-filers MPAs in 2017 as against 22 in 2016.