Lahore

The 15-day Voluntary Tax Compliance Scheme (VTCS) could attract only about 200 non-filers to file their tax returns, contributing a trivial amount of about Rs20 million to the Federal Board of Revenue, as the scheme is ending on Monday (today), also reverting WHT to 0.6 percent from existing 0.3 percent, officials said.

But the traders said that they were facing with multiple issues, particularly distrust of the FBR. There are several lobbies who don’t want to see this scheme become a reality.

The corrupt elements in the FBR had been a key hindrance in developing a culture of tax compliance in the country. Changing traditions and adopting new ways take time and the same is the case with our traders’ community. We need time to develop trust, said traders adding that this scheme was the only way to bring the traders into the tax net and increase tax collections.

They demanded the government to extend deadline for Voluntary Tax Compliance Scheme to achieve target of bringing 1 million traders into tax net because few hundred have got themselves registered due to short period of time.

All Pakistan Anjuman-e-Tajiran central general secretary Naeem Mir addressing a press conference at Lahore Press Club on Sunday demanded that the last date for becoming a filer of tax returns should be extended to June 30, 2016. The deadline for the Voluntary Tax Compliance Scheme is Feb 29. However, the scheme, which came into effect on Feb 1 2016, actually kicked off on Feb 10, 2016.

The scheme was finalised after four months of negotiations and it took another four months for the government to get it approved from parliament. In this situation, the deadline was too close.

If the deadline for tax amnesty scheme was extended to June 30, the APAT would launch a nationwide awareness drive among traders to highlight benefits of this scheme so that they become filers, join the tax net and start paying taxes instead of paying something under the table to the tax collectors. On the other hand, we will hold a nationwide meeting of our office-bearers in Islamabad to discuss the post-Feb situation.

Under the scheme, the traders can become tax filers by paying mere two paisa per Rs100. At the same time there will not be any audit of these new filers up to financial year 2018. On the other hand, non-filers will have to pay 0.3 per cent withholding tax on banking transactions exceeding Rs50,000 a day.

Chairman Sindh Tajir Ittehad, Jamil Paracha also urged the federal finance ministry to extend tax returns filing deadline till June 30 to help the willing traders capitalise on the amnesty scheme. Chairman Sindh Tajir Ittehad, Jamil Paracha lauded the tax amnesty scheme with a hope that would benefit traders. He said that thousands of businessmen were willing to benefit from the scheme and urged the finance ministry to extend return filing date till June 30. 

Chaudhary Muhammad Nawaz, President Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FCCI), has demanded extension in date for filling returns under Voluntary Tax Compliance Scheme 2016 till April 30, 2016. He said that the issue of withholding tax on bank transaction remained bone of contention between the government and the business community for the last six seven months. 

He said that the business community was appreciative of the good gesture of the government and particularly Haroon Akhtar Khan but it was a hard fact that most of the time of business community was wasted in frivolous discussions and agitations and many of them would be unable to file their returns before February 29 which is last date to file these returns.