Amnesty schemes culture should be eliminated: OICCI

KARACHI: Overseas Investors Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OICCI) has recommended the government to eliminate culture of amnesty schemes as such measures encourage tax evaders.

“Eliminate culture of Amnesty Schemes as it discourages the honest tax payers,” the OICCI said in its proposals for budget 2019/2020.

In other suggestions for documentation of the economy, the chamber said that all income earners should get themselves registered and obtain proper National Tax Number (NTN).

FBR should urgently implement the recommendations of the Tax Reforms Commission (TRC) and also hold regular round table conferences with leading tax and legal experts to review existing laws for increasing the number of tax payers and taxable entities.

Tax authorities should make better/effective utilization of NADRA database and other documented sources to ensure that all income earners are NTN holders and “Filers”, with submission of annual income tax/ wealth returns and wealth reconciliation statements.

“Adjustable 1 percent annual tax be levied on all asset holders, whether filers or non- filers, irrespective of source of income,” the OICC suggested.

FBR and SBP to devise a framework to ensure all customers of financial institutions whose account shows turnover in excess of Rs2 million or more during the year, have filed a tax return and wealth statement.

This could be done by the financial institutions simply notifying names/CNIC numbers of such customers to FBR without giving access to bank accounts.

Art exhibition halls, hospitals where doctors practice, hotels and other public places holding large receptions for fashion houses & designers, sale of branded/designer dresses, airlines, travel agencies, etc should provide names and addresses of the respective persons involved in these business activities to the FBR on a quarterly basis.

Once the FBR receives the above information, it should be pro-active and pursue potential tax payers by sending them income tax return forms requiring them to file tax returns – rather than waiting for the tax returns to be filed.

“The Protection of Economic Reforms Act”, 1992, which has been amended in 2018, should be further reviewed to curb the practice of remitting undeclared income through unofficial channels outside Pakistan and the same being brought into Pakistan through banking channels in Foreign Exchange, thereby “whitening” the unexplained money at a minimal cost.

Section 111(4) of the Income Tax Ordinance, 2001 which has also been amended in 2018, should be further reviewed to restrict tax free inward foreign remittances to immediate family members only.

Severe, and visible, penalties should be levied to punish tax evaders, starting with evasions of over Rs one million.

As Pakistan is a signatory to the OECD Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes, which became operational from September 2018, regular coordination should be done with relevant authorities of countries, considered as tax heavens for stashing away illegal wealth, for information sharing.

Appropriate laws should be made to enable the government to seize local assets, in equivalent value, or levy appropriate taxes, if any person holds any kind of assets outside the country for which source of income could not be established.

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