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LAHORE: Though the key alliance Markazi Tanzeem Tajran has parted ways after getting assurance from the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) that coercive measures introduced in a recently promulgated ordinance would not be initiated against small traders, the All Pakistan Anjuman-e-Tajran (APAT) is still determined to besiege the FBR's Islamabad office alone on Sep 29.

Addressing a press conference along with a number of presidents and leaders of various markets here on Monday, APAT Central General Secretary Naeem Mir said they are peaceful people and want to stage a 'peaceful' protest demonstration outside the Islamabad office of the FBR on September 29, 2021, because both the government and the Board had been turning a deaf ear to our issues for long. He said that traders, office-bearers and representatives of the APAT would gather outside the FBR office from across the country and would continue their protest till the government addresses their concerns.

The government on September 17 had promulgated a presidential ordinance "Tax Laws (Third Amendment) Ordinance-2021" giving wide ranging powers to the FBR to disable mobile phone SIMs and disconnect electricity and gas connections of non-filers through data matching with the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) using artificial intelligence.

According to Mir, there is no logic in registration of sales through Point of Sale (POS) machines since traders were already paying all the taxes on their goods or services. "Integrating businesses with the FBR is not the issue, but the real issue is why we would pay those taxes which are not payable," he said asking the government to admit and explain why it wanted to impose 16 percent additional taxes on traders.

"Double taxation and complicated documentation are promoting corruption instead of easing taxation system," he said and wondered that since traders are bound to ensure entries in the POS machines, there is lot of chances of fake entries in connivance of the FBR officials which would further promote corruption.

He admitted that traders hide their turnover mainly due to excessive income tax rate. "The government is also collecting advance tax (from professionals) which is basically an income tax. The income tax is generally charged on the income of a person but the FBR is collecting income tax from traders on the basis of their turnover," he deplored.

Mir proposed the government to abolish turnover tax and introduce a slab-based mechanism and collect income tax accordingly. He said the slabs must be 'nominal' so that more people, particularly traders, could be brought into the tax net, thus discouraging corrupt practices. "For getting rid of this dirt (tax) system, we are going to the federal capital and will not return empty-handed," he pledged and said traders were ready for a meaningful dialog or an open debate on any national TV channel.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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