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September 20, 2019
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NA passes Income Tax Amendment Bill 2016 amid protest

ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly on Thursday passed a bill to further amend the Income Tax Ordinance, 2001 {The Income Tax (Amendment) Bill, 2016}, amid strong protest, walk out and note of dissent by the opposition.

The bill was moved by Minister for Climate Change Zahid Hamid on behalf of Finance Minister Senator Ishaq Dar.

According to statement of objects and reasons of the bill, a major segment of national economy is undocumented and a large number of traders who are required to file their income tax returns are either persistent non-filers or are underreporting their income and are depriving the national exchequer of its due share.

It states, in view of the prevailing culture of massive non-reporting and under-reporting, it is expedient to provide a one-time opportunity to the filers as well as non-filers to regularize their tax affairs by adopting a special and simplified procedure for assessment of their tax.

According to note of dissent of the opposition members, the scheme will be counter-productive to the objectives of enhancing government revenue and will sent a wrong message to the honest and committed tax payers.

The amnesty at a highly discounted rate (one percent) is unfair and unjust for the tax payers who pay their tax honestly. “Without FBR reforms, the fundamental reasons why this scheme is being proposed will not change and we will face the same situation in a couple of years.”

Earlier, Opposition Leader Sayed Khursheed Shah raising objections over the bill said that it would shake confidence of the people. He said such schemes were also introduced in the past but were failed as they brought no relief to the people and the government.

PPP’s Syed Naveed Qamar, PTI’s Shah Mahmood Qureshi, JI’s Sahibzada Tariq Ullah and MQM’s Rasheed Godail also criticized the bill.

Responding to opposition criticism, Parliamentary Secretary for Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs Rana Mohammad Afzal Khan said the credit went to the present government to bring traders into voluntarily tax scheme.

He said in the past tax amnesty schemes were introduced for profiteers, black marketers and smugglers but there was no such waiver for these people in this scheme. –APP