ATL Expands to 4.22 Million Amid SIM Blocking Fears

ATL Expands to 4.22 Million Amid SIM Blocking Fears

Karachi, May 13, 2024 – The Active Taxpayers List (ATL) has surged to 4.22 million individuals as the looming threat of SIM card blocking for non-compliance compelled previously non-compliant citizens to make tax filings, sources disclosed on Monday.

According to the ATL for tax year 2023 released by the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), based on returns filed up to May 12, 2024, the total number of active taxpayers has witnessed a remarkable increase to 4.22 million, compared to 4.18 million just a week ago.

This unprecedented surge in tax registrations comes in the wake of heightened concerns over the impending threat of SIM card blocking for non-filers of tax returns. The influx of registrations was catalyzed by the FBR’s recent directive, outlined in Income Tax General Order No. 1 issued on April 29, 2024, which targets over half a million non-filers. The order mandates telecommunications companies to block the SIM cards of individuals who have neglected their fiscal responsibilities by failing to file income tax returns and wealth statements for the year 2023.

The FBR’s stern stance is part of a broader strategy aimed at expanding Pakistan’s tax base, a vital step for enhancing the country’s tax-to-GDP ratio—an essential indicator of fiscal health and economic efficiency. This move has significantly contributed to the growth in the Active Taxpayers List (ATL) from 3.35 million in March to 4.22 million by May.

By linking tax compliance with mobile connectivity, the FBR has effectively incentivized taxpayers to regularize their status. Inclusion in the ATL not only prevents the inconvenience of disabled SIM cards but also qualifies individuals for reduced tax rates on various financial transactions, further encouraging compliance.

Despite this progress, the disparity between the active taxpayer base and Pakistan’s total population of 240 million underscores the ongoing challenges in achieving comprehensive tax coverage. To address these challenges, the FBR is intensifying its outreach through awareness campaigns, simplifying tax procedures, and bolstering digital infrastructure to facilitate the compliance process.

FBR officials believe that such proactive measures are fundamental for fostering a robust compliance culture, essential for Pakistan’s fiscal stability and sustainable economic growth. By ingraining such a culture, the FBR aims to provide a more predictable environment for economic planning and development.

With the ATL now publicly accessible, the FBR aims to uphold transparency and encourage greater participation in the tax framework. This transparency is intended to foster trust among citizens and promote a fair taxation system where compliance yields tangible benefits.

As the deadline for SIM blocking approaches, the FBR continues to strive for higher compliance rates, crucial for the country’s broader economic stability and advancement. With continued efforts and strategic initiatives, the hope is that the tax compliance rate will witness significant improvements, thereby contributing to Pakistan’s economic prosperity.