Draft Study: Reforming Tax System in Pakistan

Draft Study: Reforming Tax System in Pakistan

Publication details

  • Tuesday | 03 Dec, 2013
  • Vaqar Ahmed, Muhammad Adnan
  • Research Reports,Project Publications
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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

1.       Taxes matter. Taxes affect citizens, economy of the country, businesses, governance mechanisms,  etc.  Not  only revenue  mobilisation,  an effective  system  of taxation  helps  in formalising  the economy,  encourages  economic  growth,  shapes  political  cohesion  between tiers of the Government, and results in increase in social sector service delivery.

2.       A   good   tax   system   should   be   fair,   adequate,   simple,   transparent,    and administratively easy to adopt and comply. Fairness means that the tax should be equitable – i.e. it should apply to everyone and must not distinguish between different taxpayers. It is important  that taxpayers  believe  that they are treated  equally.  Ideally,  taxpayers  in similar financial condition should pay similar amounts in taxes. Taxpayers who are better off should pay  at least  the  same  proportion  of income  in taxes  as those  who  are less well  off.  The government  should  not become  a burden  on low-income  residents.  Tax system  should  be adequate – i.e. taxes must provide enough revenue to meet the basic needs of society. Tax system  should  be  transparent,  which  means  that  taxpayers  and  leaders  can  easily  find information about the tax system and how tax money is used. Information should be available (in broad terms) on who pays the tax and who benefits from tax exemptions, deductions, and credits.  Administrative  ease means that the tax system is not too complicated  or costly for either taxpayers or tax collectors. Rules are well known and fairly simple, forms are not too complicated, it is easy to comply voluntarily.

3.       Pakistan needs considerable efforts to improve its system of taxation. Based on the above characteristics of a good taxation system, there is a considerable room for improvement in terms of both the tax-policy and tax-administration. The tax base is currently narrow, there is limited  capacity  of the state to extract  taxes, informal  economy  has grown,  compliance ratios are reducing, and there is a need to improve tax administration.

4.       Pakistan’s tax system cannot be termed as fair as there are wide exemptions and preferential  treatments  available  to  certain  segments  of  the  society,  while  negligible amounts  are  collected  through  taxes  on  agriculture,  capital  gains,  and  immovable property.  The  general  perception  is  that  the  Government  is  a  burden  on  low-income residents. L</