KARACHI: Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) is close to achieving target of 1 million filers of tax returns while efforts are afoot to take the figure to 1.8 million within a year.

This was stated by Member Inland Revenue Policy Rehmatullah Wazir while briefing officers of National Defence University (NDU) during a visit to FBR. Member Customs, FBR Nasir Masroor Ahmed also spoke on the occasion and gave the visiting officers an overview of the roles and responsibilities of Pakistan Customs Service in enhanced revenue mobilization, trade facilitation and effective border management.

Member Inland Revenue Policy Rehmatullah Wazir said FBR has written to all secretaries in the federal government, provincial governments and heads of semi-government and autonomous bodies as well as to those in the private sector, to ensure that their employees file their annual income tax returns this year. “We believe that this measure can help us get around 800,000 new filers,” he said.

FBR is striving to create distinction between filers and non-filers by raising the cost of doing business for non-filers. The imposition of bank withholding tax was a step in this direction. Similarly, over Rs 240 billion worth of subsidies and tax exemptions have been done away with by the present government in order to expand the tax base, to mobilize greater revenues and bring about uniformity in the tax environment.

Rehmatullah Wazir said FBR was exploring new perspectives such as creation and maintenance of central data bank, simplification of tax procedures, increased reliance on direct taxes within the tax-mix, minimum tax exemptions and withholding tax, robust audit and more transparency to promote a culture of tax compliance.

Member Customs, FBR Nasir Masroor Ahmed said the Customs was contributing significantly to overall tax revenue. Last year alone, nearly Rs 1.0 trillion in customs and sales tax was collected.

He said Pakistan Customs faces new challenges in the wake of IPRs enforcement, exponential rise in international trade, more sophisticated and demanding clients, heightened security concerns, proliferation of regional trade agreements and compliance to international conventions and these challenges were being met through end-to-end electronic solutions, efficient and effective implementation of trade agreements, withdrawal of exemptions and curbing border smuggling.

Later, an interactive Q&A session followed during which visiting officers asked FBR management keen questions on dynamics of fiscal policy and taxation. Commemorative shields were exchanged on the occasion.