Electricity and gas connections of non-filers to be cut next: FBR Chairman

As Pakistan aims to increase its tax revenues in the 2024-25 budget, the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) chairman announced that non-filers’ electricity, gas connections, and SIM cards will be suspended.

In a recent development, the Senate’s Standing Committee on Finance and Revenue approved a proposal to impose a foreign travel ban on non-filers. These decisions were made in a session chaired by Saleem Mandviwalla.

FBR Chairman Zubair Tiwana informed the Senate body that non-filers would face actions under the Income Tax General Order (ITGO), with exemptions for Hajj, Umrah, children, students, and holders of the National Identity Card for Overseas Pakistanis (NICOP).

He elaborated that non-filers would face the suspension of their SIM cards, electricity, and gas connections, and their businesses could be shut down.

During the session, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Senator Farooq H Naek emphasized that travel restrictions on non-filers should be enforced similarly to those on the exit control list (ECL).

Tiwana further mentioned that a higher withholding tax rate was approved for non-filers. He added that the non-filer list included 500,000 individuals with annual incomes exceeding 2 million.

These individuals had previously disclosed their income statements with their tax return documents. The FBR chairman noted that temporary filers would also pay additional tax when purchasing vehicles, plots, and residences.

The Senate body also approved a proposal to reduce the salary slab and increase the tax rate. Additionally, they approved a 75% withholding tax on the cellular and internet bills of non-filers.

Earlier this week, Finance Minister Muhammad Aurangzeb stressed the need to broaden the tax net, stating that the country could not function with a 9.5% tax-to-GDP ratio.

“We need to bring everyone into the tax net. Our goal is to have everyone on the active taxpayers’ list,” said the finance minister during an appearance on Geo News program Aaj Shahzeb Khanzada Kay Sath.

“We must eliminate the non-filer category in the country,” he added.

His remarks came just hours after presenting the federal budget for the fiscal year 2024-25 in the National Assembly, with a total outlay of Rs18.9 trillion.

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