The Lahore Chamber of Commerce & Industry (LCCI) has expressed grave concern over FBR’s inaction on section 38-B and withholding tax on bank transactions and urged the Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Finance Minister Ihsaq Dar to intervene into the matter.
The LCCI President Malik Tahir Javed, Senior Vice President Khawaja Khawar Rasheed and Vice President Zeeshan Khalil said that challenges to economy would swell if issues of discritionery powers and withholding tax on bank transactions are not resolved.
“Being a major source of revenue for the government, business community deserves honor while withholding tax should be removed as it is unjustified and double taxation”, the LCCI office-bearers said and added that indirect taxes are being removd graudually throughout the world here in Pakistan these are contributing around 60 percent to the revenue despite the fact that expenses on this practice are higher than the collections.
They said that section 38-B is being misused badly against the business community that is one of the major reasons of low tax-to-GDP ratio. They said that exports have already declined and trade deficit is touching the sky while such issues are adding fuel to the fire.
They said that FBR should stop harassing filers as it discourages businesses to come into the tax net. Registered businesses are required to comply with various departments involving a lot of financial and time resources whereas unregistered businesses are free from all such hassles. They said that there are 3.5 million registered taxpayers out of which only around 1 million file their tax returns. Government should take all the measures to ensure filing of returns by remaining 2.5 million individuals and businesses. The government claims that it always acts as a facilitator but in this scenario it is entirely otherwise.
They said that attaching bank accounts for recovery of outstanding dues is hampering business growth and tarnishing the soft image image of the government. They said that bank accounts should not be attached without prior notice to the taxpayer and after seeking approval in writing of Commissioner in the light of reply submitted by the taxpayer. The recovery should be after the decision of the Tribunal and not before that.
They said that unfortunately if the FBR initiates a recovery case, the taxpayer is not allowed to defend as FBR itself is the complainant and a judge. Instead of focusing on controlling under-invoicing, curbing smuggling and expanding the tax net, the FBR seems to be inclined to pressurize registered taxpayers who are already suffering due to high rate of sales tax, income tax and Custom duties by creating fictitious cases for recovery of outstanding dues to meet revenue target.