In Pakistan, tax collection is carried out by both federal and provincial governments, with direct and indirect taxes being the primary means of resource mobilization. The current tax structure, which is regulated by the Income Tax Ordinance 2001 and Sales Tax Act 1990 and administered by the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), is regressive and unfair.
A tax system should be simple and clear, treating all goods and services equally to enable market realities to inform consumer and investment decisions. Tax rates and policies must remain stable and not change frequently, as this forces taxpayers to speculate on tax policy. Withholding taxes that have a higher cost of collection than their contribution should be abolished.
The tax policy should facilitate transactions and growth, rather than hinder them. The economy is shrinking due to the current policy of suspicion toward all transactions. Future tax authorities should use ICT tools, biometric data, and a data warehouse to tap into untapped sources of income and connect banking information with the NADRA database. Provincial governments should also value real estate, capital gains, and property asset values more efficiently and incorporate them into a well-functioning tax system.
In conclusion, Pakistan’s tax collection system must be reformed to ensure fairness, efficiency, and ease of compliance, thereby promoting economic growth and prosperity for all.