ISLAMABAD - In a bid to promote tax culture in the country, the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) would issue 100 privilege cards to top tax-paying individuals and companies after completion of the income tax returns filing process.

The distribution of privilege cards to top 100 taxpayers is a part of the scheme announced by the prime minister to give incentives to the taxpayers and promote tax culture in the country, stated the official notification issued by FBR on Thursday.

"The privilege cards will be issued in March 2014 to 100 top taxpayers in four different categories," an official of FBR informed The Nation. He further said that FBR had already discussed the issuance of the privilege cards with all other government departments including immigration department, civil aviation and passport issuing authorities.

Under the scheme, top 100 taxpayers will be issued privilege/recognition cards in the categories including salaried individuals, non-salaried individuals, member of Association of Persons (AOP) and companies.

The notification stated that the top taxpayers would avail the benefits of the card including use of VIP lounges at airports, fast track clearance and immigration counters and issuance of gratis passports. Similarly, the benefits of the cards also included increase in the baggage allowance from $500 to $2,500, annual dinner with the prime minister at excellence award ceremonies and invitation for ceremonies for March 23, August 14 and other state banquets.

It might be mentioned here that very low number of people are filing income tax returns in the country, as only 0.85 million people have filed their returns in the year 2013. Therefore, the government wants to maximize the number by giving incentives schemes. Prime Minister Mohammad Nawaz Sharif on November 28, 2013 had announced tax incentives package to promote investment in the country that included the aforesaid scheme.

The notification stated that validity of card would be one year, beginning on first day of March and ending on last day of February each year. Ministry of Interior, Federal Investigation Authority (FIA), Civil Aviation Authority, Directorate of Immigration and Passport, Pakistan Customs Services, and any other department or authority relevant or concerned, in any manner for the purpose of this scheme, are empowered and required to assist and implement the provisions of the scheme in providing privileges/facilities to the holders of the card.