Taxing the poor

ACCORDING to media reports Excise & Taxation and Narcotics Control Department of Punjab plans to propose a property tax on five marla houses in the province. Its Director-General Akram Ashraf Gondal has come out with a queer logic that if people could pay tax on renting of six marla house in smaller cities in Punjab, they could pay taxes on five-marla houses in larger cities as well.
The decision of Punjab Government to exempt houses up to five marla from property tax was considered to be a major relief for disadvantaged sections of the society and has helped mitigate their sufferings to a great extent. Excise Department definitely needs to increase tax collection and it can be done by making defaulters to pay and eliminating rampant corruption in the organisation and not at the cost of poor who are already burdened with different types of taxes and ever-rising cost of living. We would point out to the Excise Department that owning five marla house is not a luxury even if they live in big cities. All those living in big cities and especially those having five marla house are not necessarily well-to-do people and majority of them purchased land and built houses decades back. Many of them took loans from House Building Finance Corporation or their relatives to have a home of their own. It should be also borne in mind that apart from posh areas of cities, other localities present dismal picture as far as civic amenities and hygienic conditions are concerned and despite all this the DG is proposing taxing the poor. We would urge Punjab Government to reject such proposition with the contempt it deserves.

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