Filing tax returns a requisite for army promotions.

Byline: Shahbaz Rana

ISLAMABAD -- Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Bajwa has made filing of income tax returns as one of the criteria for promotions as the military endorses campaign for broadening of the tax base, said a senior official of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) on Wednesday.

'The military is very much concerned about the tax base of the country and Gen Bajwa has already filed his income tax return last month,' said the FBR Member Facilitation and Taxpayers Education (FATE) Hamid Ateeq Sarwar. Sarwar along with two other senior FBR members spoke to the media a day after the government exempted the salaried class from paying penalties on late filing of the returns.

'Being non-filer could now affect promotions in the army,' said Sarwar while responding to a question about the tax contributions by the Pakistan Army. The comments have been made at a time when the tax authorities face a gigantic task of broadening the extremely narrow tax base.

Only two days are left in the close of the last deadline for filing the income tax returns. However, only 900,000 people and companies have submitted their returns. Last year, around 1.4 million taxpayers filed returns.

Broadening of the tax base and catching tax thieves are among the main goals of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government. In the past, the military has also publically expressed concerns over the low tax collection in the country, although it falls in the civilian jurisdiction.

The official said before reduction in individual income tax rates, the army alone was paying nearly Rs398 million per month in income tax on the salaries, bringing its annual contribution to Rs4.8 billion. He said the military and its welfare organisations are also deducting withholding taxes on various transactions.

'Topi Rukh marriage hall Rawalpindi -owned by the military is the single largest contributor of withholding taxes being collected on arranging functions', said Sarwar.

During July-September quarter of this fiscal year, the FBR's Regional Tax Office Rawalpindi collected Rs27.8 million withholding taxes from all the marriage halls located in its jurisdiction. The collection was 15% of the total withholding taxes collected on functions and gatherings.

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