Citizens Rush to File Tax Returns as ATL Grows to 4.54 Million

Citizens Rush to File Tax Returns as ATL Grows to 4.54 Million – The number of active taxpayers in Pakistan has surged to 4.54 million for the tax year 2023, driven by concerns over stringent measures by the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR). This significant increase is reflected in the FBR’s weekly Active Taxpayers List (ATL), which accounts for returns filed up to June 9, 2024.

Remarkably, around 320,000 individuals filed their returns and joined the ATL over the past week alone, a substantial jump from the 4.22 million active taxpayers recorded for the week ending May 19, 2024. This surge is largely attributed to the looming threat of SIM card blocks for non-filers.

The FBR’s directive, detailed in Income Tax General Order No. 1 issued on April 29, 2024, has been pivotal in this rise. The order mandates telecommunications companies to block the SIM cards of individuals who fail to file income tax returns and wealth statements for the year 2023. This move targets over half a million non-filers and has served as a powerful motivator for compliance.

The FBR’s hardline stance is part of a broader strategy to broaden Pakistan’s tax base, a critical step towards enhancing the country’s tax-to-GDP ratio—a key indicator of fiscal health and economic efficiency. As a result, the ATL has grown from 3.35 million in March to 4.54 million by June 9, 2024.

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

Despite this progress, the gap 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 issues, the FBR is intensifying its outreach through awareness campaigns, simplifying tax procedures, and enhancing digital infrastructure to facilitate compliance.

FBR officials assert that these proactive measures are fundamental to fostering a robust compliance culture, essential for Pakistan’s fiscal stability and sustainable economic growth. By embedding 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. The recent measures and strategic initiatives are expected to result in significant improvements in tax compliance, thereby contributing to Pakistan’s economic prosperity.

This surge in active taxpayers underscores the impact of the FBR’s innovative approach to tax enforcement and the importance of continued efforts to expand the tax base. By maintaining and building upon these initiatives, Pakistan can look forward to a more stable and robust economic future.