No new taxes in next year`s budget: FBR chief

The chairman of the Federal Board of Revenue said on Wednesday that the government would get more than Rs130 billion by withdrawing more exemptions in the next budget and by sticking to special revenue measures announced in March. “We will not levy any new taxes in the next budget. We will only withdraw the exemptions available to special sectors, through statuary regulatory orders,” Salman Siddique told .

The additional taxes, which were imposed in March on income, imports, agriculture and domestic sales of export-oriented items through a presidential order, have been estimated to raise an additional revenue of over Rs53 billion by June 30. He said the presidential order would lapse after 120 days, but these taxes would be made part of the finance bill for the next financial year. However, it is not clear if the government will retain the surcharge on income tax. Mr Siddique said that a uniform tax regime for all sectors would be introduced in the budget. A proposal is under consideration to bring down maximum customs tariff to 25 per cent, a level that was maintained in 2002-03 but regulatory duties were introduced in 2008 to curtail imports of luxury items, which led to a multiple customs tariff rates. He said that the continuation of different tax regimes needed to be justified and debated at an appropriate forum.

The main purpose of reforms was to treat all taxpayers without discrimination, which would be a good signal to foreign investors, he added. The FBR chairman said he was confident that current year`s revenue target of Rs1,588 billion would be achieved. “I have asked tax officials to settle revenue stuck in litigation to achieve the revised target,” he said. Tax officials have already started desk audit of short-filers. Mr Siddique will leave for Dubai on Thursday to brief an IMF delegation on revenue measures to be announced in the next budget and tax collection during the current fiscal year. “We will set a revenue target of Rs1,952 billion for the next year. I am optimistic to achieve the target because economic activities will hopefully kick up next year,” he said. He said he was determined to bring the potential taxpayers in the tax net and notices had been issued to 69,000 non-filers. Billions of rupees would come to the exchequer from the non-filers which would help avoid new taxes in the next budget, he added. According to a provisional assessment of 11,000 non-filers, the tax officials have raised a demand of Rs861 million. The income tax department has already identified 700,000 people who have assets but do not contribute a single penny to the kitty. The FBR chairman said that no-one had questioned the withholding agents whether or not they collected the actual amount from taxpayers. A closer watch on their performance could lead to an increase in revenue. – PTV