Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry in collaboration with the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) organized a seminar on sales tax on services and inter-provincial harmonization. A large number of business community and tax professionals attended the event.
The event highlighted that after the passage of 18th amendment to the constitution, three provinces except for Baluchistan, have established their own tax authorities for collection of sales tax on services, however, the issues like overlapping between federal & provincial tax authorities and double taxation were creating problems for taxpayers. They were of the opinion that federal government should have drafted a framework within which provinces could tax services. They said without cross provincial consensus and inter-provincial harmonization on tax collection of sales tax on services, there would be issues of double taxation and excessive administration burden both on the businesses and tax authorities.
The experts observed that very high tax rates in Pakistan were promoting culture of tax evasion and government should focus on low tax rates for enhancing tax base and improving tax revenue of the country. The businessmen said that tax regime in Pakistan was very complicated with multiple tax rates as taxpayers were paying almost 10 different taxes in addition to many indirect taxes. They said businessmen wanted to pay tax, but high taxes and difficult tax system were the main hurdle in better tax compliance. They said government should simplify tax system and introduce single digit sales tax rate in order to attract more taxpayers into the tax net.
Atif Ikram Sheikh President Islamabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry in his welcome address said that positive changes were happening gradually in the tax system and stressed that government should make tax policies in consultation with trade bodies by addressing their key concerns on tax matters.
Chas Roy-Chowdhury ACCA’s Head of Global Taxation, Arif Masud Mirza Regional Head of Policy MENASA ACCA Hammad Siddiqui Acting Country Director Centre for International Private Enterprise (CIPE), Muhammad Yasir Technical Advisor Tax Compliance FBR and others also addressed the event and called for simplified tax system. It was stressed that SMEs should also focus on improving their financial management skills to deal with tax matters more effectively. It was urged that educating taxpayers including SMEs on tax compliance was key to promote tax culture and improve tax revenue. Experts stressed that trade bodies across the country should play their role for improving tax compliance and minimizing informal economy.