According to some media reports, the FBR is facing a lot of problems while collecting taxes. The board has observed that the people are reluctant to file returns. Return forms are so complex that most people cannot fill them properly. Non-taxable income and assets are demanded in such details that only an accountant can maintain such record and justify the asset or income with documentary proof, if questioned.
A majority of people in our country would prefer a hassle-free procedure to file the return. I am a regular taxpayer and file the return with the help of an IT consultant. Every year, I feel scared before filing the return. The FBR needs to eliminate this feeling of fear. This could be achieved by simplifying the process of filing the return.
M Akram Niazi (Rawalpindi)
There is a constant refrain from the authorities that a small percentage of the people of Pakistan pay their taxes. According to some reports, the number of registered taxpayers in Pakistan is just 1.21 million – that is 0.6 percent of the population. The impression is thus conveyed that less than one percent of the people of Pakistan pay taxes. Nothing can be farther from the truth. While the truth is that almost every single person that breaths Pakistan’s air pays the tax, only 1.21 million ‘file’ the papers giving details of the tax they pay. And it is wrong and unfair to stigmatise and equate the ‘non-filers’ with the ‘non-payers’ of taxes. The food that we eat is taxed, the clothes that we wear are taxed, the houses that we live in are taxed. If a person does not fill a FBR form, it doesn’t imply that he or she is not paying taxes. The reality is that while every Pakistani pays the taxes – willingly or un-willingly – only a small number of people file their tax returns.
There are many people who would gladly fill in the FBR form for filing the income tax return if the procedure was made simple and easy. There are a few suggestions to make the process hassle-free. Divide the tax payers in a number of well defined categories. Make simple return forms – two or three pages for each category. These printed forms should be available in the market for a small price – Rs20 or 30 per form. The offices where these returns have to be deposited should be large in number. Their addresses should be written on the back of the form so that a person can find them easily. Taxpayers should be allowed to file the tax return online or through hard copy forms
Nazar Abbas (Islamabad)