FBR push for e-file returns reduces numbers of e-filing by two third
Despite deadline extension, 0.3% of 180m observe e-filing criteria
The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) seems disinterested in attracting tax payers rather they are creating hurdles and procedural hitches in the name of e-filing that have drastically reduced the number of people filling their returns by two third as compared to last year.
Last year when e-filing was not mandatory and the option of submission of hard copy was available, out of 2.9884 million registered tax payers, 1.965 million taxpayers had filed their returns. But this year despite several times extensions, around 0.6 million have been able to e-file their returns as even those who intend to file returns either do not have capacity to file online or do not have access to Internet.
“How can common people, shopkeepers like me can file returns on Internet when most of us do not know how to access online or operate a computer. This is not Britain and U.S. where everything is available online. Tell me how many people are computer literate in Pakistan who can access FBR online,” said Muhammad Rasheed Akhtar, a shopkeeper in the capital.
“In a country where only 1.7% of 180 million people have registered themselves as taxpayers and only 0.3% have so far e-filed, how can we expect to broaden our tax base through stringent online tools. Moreover those who intend to e-file, they have to face a lot of problems on the portal designed for the taxpayers. This portal does not accept entries from other than Microsoft Internet Explorer (Version 6 and above). So FBR has violated the rules by giving monopoly to one Internet browser which is not fair for those who use other Internet browsers,” said Shafqat Munir, a policy analyst and researcher.
“If FBR thinks e-filing is the only option that can take off their burden putting the onus on the taxpayers, then it should open up its kiosks in various cities providing computer and Internet access with dedicated staff who can help people instead of pushing the taxpayers who are semi literate, illiterate or literate but not computer literate in to frustration that may lead even the intended taxpayer not to pay taxes or at least not file tax returns,” says Shazia Ahmad, a salaried person.
FBR officials should understand the problems of the people. Firstly they should attract more and more taxpayers by facilitating them to pay tax and file returns in the simplest possible way. Since most of the potential taxpayers many times higher than those who have registered themselves with tax authorities or are by default a part of the process being a salaried person may like to pay tax and be part of the process but FBR’s insistence on e-filing and difficult and complicated returns forms complicated the process.
“We realize that by paying taxes we may play our role in nation building but tax machinery is not willing to get tax instead they want to make the process complicated to open up ways for their corruption at the cost of the nation and want us to pay tax agents/so-called tax advisers heavy fees for e-filing and other procedural issues,” said Malik Nawaz Rafiq, a paint merchant.