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Taxing the parliamentarians

Taxing the parliamentarians

According to official sources, a deadline set by the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has passed but a large number of parliamentarians have not yet filed their income tax returns. The FBR has already written to the speakers of the National Assembly, Senate and provincial assemblies, informing them that the board has allowed the parliamentarians to file their tax returns without fine and surcharge even after the lapse of the deadline. The board has even set up special kiosks at assemblies,but most of the parliamentarians have turned a deaf ear to this concession. Earlier, the FBR had decided to incorporate the income tax returns to the parliamentary tax directory.
It is not the first time the parliamentarians have ignored the FBR notification as they had filed their income tax returns after repeated reminders by the board last year. According to available data, out of 1,173 parliamentarians, at least 1,127 had filed their income tax returns up to February 28 last year. The number has further decreased this year. At a time when the country is facing multiple crises and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf is heading toward a showdown in Islamabad, the responsibility of the sitting parliamentarians also multiplies. A rapprochement between the government and the opposition is the need of the hour and in the best interest of the country. The parliamentarians are the publicrepresentativesand law makers, and they have to set example as law abiding citizens. Most of the parliamentarians are businessmen and they have more responsibilities on their shoulders than the common man.It their duty to work for the welfare of the country and should not lend currency to the notion that politicians care only for their vested interested and have nothing to do with the country.
Taxes and duties are the main source of income for a government, but tax culture has not been promotedin Pakistan due to various reasons. A majority of the citizens was poor at the time of independence, but the country saw a boom in business and trade activities in the later years. However, the successive government could not build new institutions to keep up with the pace of economic development of the country. As a result, the country is facing lack of institutional capacity to a new breed of citizens who are qualified to pay taxes and they are in millions.