RCITs told to implement Zone-B idea of tax facilitation centres

LAHORE (January 10 2005): The Central Board of Revenue (CBR), while appreciating the novel concept introduced recently by Zone-B of Eastern Region to set up Tax Facilitation Centres/Camps (TFCs) in the markets, have directed all the Regional Commissioners of Income Tax (RCITs) to implement the idea in their respective areas of jurisdiction.

The CBR through a letter sent to all RCITs has commended the efforts of Zone-B with regard to facilitating the public in submission of tax returns on voluntary basis.

It has been desired by the CBR that such centers/camps should be established at all major stations after consultation with business/trade associations so as to facilitate and encourage the people to file their income tax returns.

The RCITs have also been asked to furnish an implementation report by January 10.

The Zone-B of Eastern Region, sometime back, had set up a Tax Facilitation Center/Camp in Liberty Market with the co-operation of the trade body of the market to facilitate and encourage the taxpayers in filing their returns.

Punjab Governor Lieutenant General Khalid Maqbool (Retd) inaugurated the Centre.

The department has also recently established another such camp at the Allama Iqbal Town area, which has received an overwhelming response from the traders.

In future such centres/camps will also be established at various other markets in Lahore, including Bilal Gunj, Azam Cloth Market, Shahdara, Township, etc besides, Kasur and Sheikhupura, Zone-B Commissioner Khawar Khurshid Butt told Business Recorder.

Highlighting the objectives of such centres, he said during the tax survey undertaken in the military regime, a number of people were identified as taxpayers, but they were not filing returns, despite notices, mainly on account of apprehensions regarding the attitude of tax officials. But now after the enforcement of new taxation laws, the CBR is aggressively pursuing the policy to convince the people for voluntarily filing of tax returns/statements, he added.

“Our success is that we by setting up tax facilitation centres with the co-operation of trade bodies convinced the people to file their returns voluntarily. Prior to that we also held a series of meetings with the trade bodies and removed their fears about the tax collectors”, he said.

Khawar Khurshid Butt also said the department has remained successful in changing the mind-set and perception of people about the tax collectors by facilitating, assisting and educating them practically on tax matters.

Talking about the camps, he said by this practice, the role of middlemen has also come to an end. Moreover, the idea has been extolled by the Chairman CBR who has also asked all the RCITs to follow the practice.

He said the government employees, who pay tax at source but do not file their income tax returns, would be asked to file their returns.

Giving the example of AG office, he pointed out that out of total 85,000 employees, 15,341 employees pay tax at source while only 2,253 employees hold NTNs, saying: “Now we plan to issue another 13,088 NTNs to the employees of this department.”

Last month, the Zone-B received 3,342 returns from the employees of Sui Northern, he said, adding they were paying tax, but not filing their tax statements, as there are 7,188 employees of SNGPL of which 3,243 hold NTNs.

The data of teachers, whose tax is deducted at source, but they do not file returns, is also being collected from the District Accounts Officers. This year, Zone-B has also received 250 returns from Kasur and 500 from Sheikhupura, as both the cities come in the jurisdiction of Eastern Region, he added.

“We are also working to collect billing data of mobile phone-users from cellular companies with a view to broadening the tax base”, said Butt.

Likewise, he said the data of people, who used to travel abroad, is also being collected through various agencies besides, car owners' data from the car manufacturing companies is also being collected.

He said that Zone-B has been exclusively assigned the task of broadening the tax base and it is utilising all available resources to convince people for voluntarily compliance of the policy.

With the introduction of new taxation laws and implementation of Universal Self-Assessment Scheme (USAS) the entire culture in the tax department is changed.

“Now there is no concept of harassment in the tax department”, he claimed.

He said the new USAS is different in many respects from all past self-assessment schemes introduced by CBR, adding the returns filed under the USAS are accepted as it is without questioning.

In old self-assessment schemes, a taxpayer was required to enhance his declared income every year in his return, while under the new USAS there is no such compulsion, he said.

Butt also said recently the CBR officials along with officials of Pakistan Revenue Automation Limited (Pral) held a meeting with Wapda authorities for printing the NIC numbers of consumers on bills so that the name of the actual consumer could be known.

However, he pointed out that negotiations with Wapda are going on and settlement is likely to take place very soon.

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