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FBR urged to set novel condition for electronic media

A member of Tax Advisory Council (TAC) has urged the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to make it mandatory for electronic media to indicate whether or not participants and anchorpersons of shows are "compliant taxpayers" and the amount of tax paid.

According to the Direct Tax proposals for federal budget 2015-16 submitted by Habib Fakhruddin, Chartered Accountant and Member TAC, there is no concept of tax culture in Pakistan. Persons paying taxes are considered as fools, while those not on the tax rolls claim to be smart citizens. The government of Pakistan through FBR has taken a number of initiatives to introduce the concept of tax culture. Two of such initiatives are the "Active Taxpayer List" and "Taxpayers Directory" placed on the website of the FBR, so that public at large should know 'who is who' in terms of Compliant Taxpayer and Contributor to the National Exchequer.

Electronic and print media is one the sources to tell the public at large 'who is who' in terms of contributor to the national exchequer, but unfortunately the media has not discharged its obligation and only in rare circumstances such information is passed on to the public at large.

It is a trite principle that like writ of law the concept of tax culture also requires a top to bottom approach.

Nowadays, talk shows; interviews of the politician and celebratory; discussions on economic affairs; and other similar programmes are televised in our electronic media in which participants including the anchorpersons talk and discuss the issues as if they are the only well wishers of our country. However, many such participants and anchorpersons fall in the category of non-compliant taxpayers and either are non-contributor to the national exchequer or contribute much below their means, income and standard of living.

It is proposed that a suitable law be made to place an obligation on the electronic media to indicate below the name of each participant and anchor persons the status of his/her discharge of its national duty in terms of whether he/she is a "Complaint Taxpayer or Not" and the amount of Income Tax paid by him. Both these information are available on the website of FBR and can be extracted in few seconds, Habib Fakhruddin added.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2015