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Govt extends tax amnesty scheme after poor response

Govt extends tax amnesty scheme after poor response

ISLAMABAD: The government has extended a tax amnesty scheme which, aimed at attracting one million traders, could only attract 350 by its Feb 29 deadline.

The deadline for the Voluntary Tax Compliance Scheme (VTCS) has now been put back to March 15. The amount of tax collected so far under the scheme is said to be around Rs40 million.

The government has also raised the withholding tax (WHT) on banking transactions exceeding Rs50,000 a day from 0.3 per cent to 0.4pc. In the latest budget, a WHT of 0.6pc was imposed on non-filers of tax returns; it was later lowered to 0.3pc.

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar announced the extension in the deadline for the amnesty scheme on Monday after a meeting with traders, who had earlier assured the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) that most traders would opt for the scheme.

Mr Dar earlier claimed that the scheme would help register one million traders.

The break-up of the returns filed under the scheme showed that 91 returns were received in Lahore, 47 in Karachi, 39 in Sialkot, 22 in Multan, 17 in Quetta, nine in Rawalpindi, eight in Islamabad and seven in Peshawar.

The minister did not make any prediction this time around. “I don’t know how many traders will avail the scheme,” he remarked.

Mr Dar said exporters’ pending refunds would be paid by March 15.

Answering a question, he said the scheme was announced after consultation with all stakeholders, including political parties. “We brought the bill in parliament on the recommendation of political parties,” he said.

Asked about the audit across the board, Mr Dar said all those who are selected in a random selection process would be audited at all cost. “The audit will be completed even if my name is selected.”

The FBR has collected Rs13.2bn in the first seven months (July-January) of this fiscal year from the revised rate of 0.3pc of WHT on banking transactions. The government projected a collection of Rs34bn from the levy during 2015-16.

After expiry of VTCS, the government would crack down on tax evaders and non-filers, the minister said.

He said that during the Musharraf regime, the traders continuously conducted shutter-down strike for 22 days and then the PPP reversed its decision to impose tax on traders. But the incumbent government convinced traders to avail this scheme, he added. “It’s the best package which they should avail.”

Courtesy : Dawn News



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