Inefficiencies failing the Tax Apparatus in Pakistan

The following write-up was published in the Oct-Dec 2017 Quarterly Edition of “Policy Insights”, the largest accountancy body ACCA’s regional publication covering MENASA

Link: ACCA’s Policy Insights’ Published Link

Link: Main Page

Inefficiencies failing the Tax Apparatus in Pakistan

(by failing the genuine Taxpayers)

Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) is a semi-autonomous federal institution that is responsible for auditing, enforcing and collecting revenue for the government of Pakistan. It’s one of the most critical components of the revenue collection apparatus in Pakistan. As such it is supposed to be the pinnacle of professionalism, discipline and support to tax payers.

During the last budgetary season, Chairman FBR invited this writer, while representing ACCA (UK) and LTBA at a historic pre-budget seminar that was organized with the collaboration of ICAP, ICMAP, ACCA, LTBA, PTBA, LCCI and several other Tax Bars, to send him proposals about the issues in and reforms for FBR. Below is a brief overview from that perspective.

Currently there are approximately 1,210,000 active income tax return filers as per the FBR directory issued in August 2017, out of a population of roughly 218 million in Pakistan. This is a meager 0.55% of the total population. A huge proportion of these filers, file NIL returns is another topic. On the other hand every Pakistani is paying indirect taxes on whatever they consume. The evident lack of trust of the taxpayers on the system and the resulting regressive taxation policies are a big hindrance in the attainment of an optimal taxation system. We’ve often discussed the problems with the taxation policies in Pakistan and proposed practical solutions. Frankly speaking there is only so much FBR can do in this regard since the policies are often driven by the IMF, World Bank and/or the political interests in the country. However the areas where FBR can and should play a very effective role are not in the best of states either.

Considering the tiny tax base it was only natural for FBR to attempt to broaden it. However the way they went about it, has been unprofessional to say the least while messing up a good endeavor big time. Notices claiming no existing tax registration based on “economic activities”, usually citing vehicle purchases were sent out to masses. Sounds positive? Hang on, what if it’s shared with you that many of those receiving these notices were not only tax payers already registered but paying millions in Income Taxes annually? This exemplifies a total lack of coordination within the systems and functions of FBR, which is unfortunately becoming a norm of late. Missing out on the records already held by FBR simply reinforces the misconceptions amongst the tax payers that FBR is out to bother already registered tax payers instead of acting as a facilitator and initiating genuine drives to catch tax evaders.

What’s tragic is that while on one hand such steps are undertaken citing the need to broaden the tax base but on the other hand proposals with huge potential to broaden the tax base such as bringing agricultural income and other exempt sections within the tax net as well as converting the CNIC into National Tax Numbers (NTN) and Sales Tax Registration Numbers (STRN) for broadening the tax base have been falling on deaf ears for almost a decade now.

To underline the vast difference in the workings of FBR and similar bodies in developed countries, a personal experience is hereby shared with the readers to illustrate the significant gulf between the international standards and the ones practiced in our beloved country. While working in UK, I needed to change my tax code. For ease of understanding you can say it was like claiming a tax refund and I was not even a British national. It took me one phone call to UK’s HMRC (Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs) during my office lunch hour to get it done by the end of the lunch. Yes, just in less than an hour. Now compare it to the experience of genuine tax-payers in Pakistan who are ridiculed and abused for even minor genuine tax affairs. Presumptive and advance taxes are collected but when it is time to issue refunds in line with the law, actual due refunds are held for months and even years despite completion of all legalities and verification. What is worst is that in most cases the FBR officials verbally accept the cases as genuine but claim that due to the pressure to meet revenue collection targets they are unable to follow the law and deliver the tax payer their due right.

The problem manifests from the nepotism and non-professional attitudes of some officers who treat tax-payers with utmost contempt instead of the dignity they deserve. Un-realistic targets setup by higher-ups then further aggravates the matters with coercive, non coordinated and even illegal measures used by certain sections within FBR. The widespread corruption within the department further worsens the matters.

It’d be reasonable to point out that although PRAL (Pakistan Revenue Automation (Pvt) Ltd) does mess up things at times, many of its’ positive endeavors were blocked for fears of eradicating corruption using different pretexts by certain sections of FBR. For example, PRAL once finalized a completely automated system of issuing refunds to tax payers with even an online payment instrument. Naturally there was a huge hue and cry. The project was dumped and the corrupt manual practices continue to date.

Now as if all this was not enough, even the laws governing the whole taxation system are made mockery of within FBR by several officers undermining the good work and efforts undertaken by their more professional colleagues. Just ask any genuine tax payer or tax practitioner about the treatment meted out to them by most FBR officials and you’d be shocked. Due to limited space, this topic will have to be continued in future write-ups.

As for now, perhaps the policy makers and senior FBR officials should consider this dire situation seriously to rectify all the serious problems within FBR. If they fail to do so, the next time they complain about low proportion of tax payers in Pakistan as compared to UK or other developed countries, they should realize that they only have themselves to blame. 

About author:

The author is Director of the think-tank “Millat Thinkers’ Forum”. He is a leading tax expert, experienced fellow Chartered Certified Accountant CFA Charterholder, and anti-money laundering specialist with international exposure who can be reached on Twitter and www.myMFB.com @OmerZaheerMeer or omerzaheermeer@hotmail.co.uk

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7 Financial Benefits of becoming a FILER

Image result for 7 Financial Benefits of becoming a FILER in Pak

Below are the seven (7) major financial benefits of becoming a Filer in Pakistan:

  1.  Lower rates of advance income tax deducted at source by banks (on interest/profits) and on banking transactions
  2. Savings on withholding tax deducted when registering and transferring motor-vehicles
  3. Lower rate of tax on sale/purchase of property transactions
  4. Rebates/reduction in tax on payment for goods, services and contracts
  5. Lower tax on dividend
  6. Reduced withholding tax on capital gains accrued on sale of securities
  7. Reduced rate of withholding tax on prize bond winnings and decreased rate of collection under commission and brokerage.

Convinced?

Contact us now for:

Best quality services by top professional team of qualified lawyers, chartered and chartered certified accountants, chartered financial analysts and tax experts:

Millennium Law & Corporate Company (MLCC), 

(the pioneer ACCA practising firm in Pakistan)

Bashir Mansion, 2 Turner Road, Adjacent AG Office, Lahore

Call: 042-37242434 / 0322-4219292 (prefer text),  Email: ozmeer@mlcc.pk

 

ACCA Pakistan “Working Group on Taxation”

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Assalam O Alikum (Peace be on you),

The above is a picture from one of the events launching ACCA’s last pre-budget proposals. We’re planning for a revamp of the ACCA taxation committee and opening up to have some more competent professionals join us with their valuable contributions for the profession, country and their Alma-mater.

Below is the snapshot of a recent email from ACCA to members across Pakistan. Please feel free to share this in your circle and get in touch if you’re the right person.

Dear ACCA Members
ACCA Pakistan MNP has decided to setup a working group under the Taxation Subcommittee. The objective of this working group will be to interact with the Federal Board of Revenue initially and expand its remit to the Provincial Revenue Authorities under the leadership of Omer Zaheer Meer, FCCA, Head of Taxation Sub Committee, ACCA Pakistan and offer the following:

  • Provide regular feedback and suggestions on circulars/policy matters pertaining to taxation
  • Prepare budget proposals (initially federal and later on expand them to the provincial proposals too) and forward them to Federal and Provincial Ministries of Finance.
  • The budget proposals should be prepared in such a way that they present a holistic as well as sectoral suggestions for Pakistan’s Annual Budget
  • Discuss, deliberate and critically evaluate issues pertaining to taxation and present the critical evaluation to Federal and Provincial
  • Profile the ACCA Pakistan Members Network Panel and the subcommittee to the taxation regulators in Pakistan

This working group will consist of 3-5 members working in the taxation sector in strategic positions with considerable experience of the sector. Members with a diverse view point on taxation of different business sectors are encouraged to share their CVs and a personal statement describing their claim to merit for these position with us.

Those members who are keen to join this working group should send us their CV and personal statement by replying to this email. We will look forward to your responses by 24 February 2017.
Haroon A Jan
Regional Head of Member Affairs – MENASA
ACCA Pakistan
61-C  Main Gulberg  Lahore Pakistan

Kind Regards,

Omer Zaheer Meer,

Managing Partner,

Millennium Law & Corporate Company

ACCA publishes detailed report on MLCC

Dear Readers,

Peace be on you,

It is with pleasure that we share that ACCA, the largest accountancy body in the world recently published a detailed report on our firm Millennium Law & Corporate Company (MLCC) and recognized it as the pioneer ACCA practicing firm in Pak. You can directly access it at: ACCA’s published profile of MLCC

or continue to read below and let us know your valuable views.

Millennium Law and Corporate Company (MLCC) becomes the Pioneer ACCA practicing firm in Pakistan

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Profile of Millennium Law & Corporate Company

  • 30 + Years’ “Young”

Millennium Law & Corporate Company (MLCC) has a background of thirty (30) years plus history of professional excellence stemming from its parent practice. It used to be focused solely on legal practice including corporate matters.

  • Way Forward – One stop solution

MLCC was expanded to include a new division for providing ACCA centered services. This led to the inclusion of the areas of taxation, corporate services, internal audit, advisory, risk management and trainings in addition to the other legal matters within the services offered by MLCC.

  • Partners

The firm is setup with specialized teams dealing with relevant areas under four (4) partners, two of whom are ACCA members while one is an ex legal advisor Federal Land Commission (Government of Pakistan) and another is an ex deputy Attorney General of Pakistan.

  • Pioneer ACCA Practising Firm in Pakistan

In 2015, the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) took a giant leap in Pakistan and initiated practising license program for the country.

  • MLCC became the pioneer practising firm in Pakistan with
  • Omer Zaheer Meer FCCA (the managing partner of MLCC) being awarded the first ever ACCA practising license in Pakistan.

Before that history was made when:

  • Omer Zaheer Meer FCCA became the first ever ACCA member to get admitted to the prestigious Lahore Tax Bar Association (LTBA) during 2009/10.
  • He was later joined by his brother Mr. Ali Zaheer Meer ACCA who is now a partner at MLCC and another ACCA member at LTBA.

Millennium Law & Corporate Company has built a reputation for quality services based on value creation and issue resolutions with time-specified deliverables. It is now the premier ACCA practising firm in the country and one of the leaders in the taxation, advisory and corporate services sectors.

  • Distinguished Collaborations

MLCC through its partners is currently represented at the Taxation Committee of Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Chairing the Liaison and sitting on the publication committees of LTBA, Chairing the Taxation Committee of ACCA, Global Tax Forum of ACCA and several think-tanks including Hamdard Thinkers’ Forum and Millat Thinkers’ Forum. MLCC’s clientele also includes some of the most distinguished names. Out key clients and/or associations are as below:

Read the rest of this section directly at:  ACCA’s published profile of MLCC

 

Why was MLCC started?

Managing Partner’s Views:

It is my strong and educated belief that the ACCA qualification and a proper training program equips one with the relevant skills, education and expertise to be the best not just technically but on the value addition side of being an entrepreneur.

With an early start to my career resulting is sufficient experience, I felt it was the right time to launch an ACCA practising firm on my return from UK to Pakistan. Also it was an opportunity to contribute back to the profession and ACCA fraternity in several ways.

However ACCA did not have a local practising license back then. Nevertheless we upheld the brand ACCA and pioneered in an area deemed alien for ACCA members at the time, i.e. local taxation. Within a short span of time we stood out of the crowd delivering excellence and quality beyond norms of the market. We then started expanding into other areas such as corporate services, advisory, risk management, e.t.c. with equally good results.

The milestones so far

Since becoming the pioneer ACCA practising firm in Pakistan some of the major milestones achieved by MLCC are outlined below:

  • Establishment of our non-legal services headquarter at the prime location of Bashir Mansion, 2 Turner Road, Lahore which is opposite FBR, close to Appellate Tribunal, behind Lahore High Court, adjacent AG Office and practically in the hub of all the action.
  • Establishment of a branch office in DHA, Lahore for facilitation of our clientele from the posh areas.
  • Award of the practising license and hence becoming the pioneer ACCA practising firm in Pakistan
  • Joining of Mr. Ali Zaheer Meer as the second ACCA partner of the Firm
  • Expansion intro value addition areas beyond taxation including internal audit, advisory, risk management, corporate services, e.t.c.
  • Start of our training division
  • Partnership with ACCA Pakistan for the CPD trainings of ACCA fraternity and beyond
  • Attendance of our CPD programs and training events by high-profile professionals including owners, directors and even non-ACCA partners of other renowned firms
  • Publication and launch of a research study on indirect taxation across the MESA (Middle-East and South-Asia region) in collaboration with ACCA and EY
  • Working with top names in various sectors including the likes of National Bank of Pakistan, Habib Bank Limited, MPDD, ACCA, LCCI, KCCI, LTBA, e.t.c.
  • Pre-launch of our ACCA trainees induction program

Advantages and benefits of ACCA firms

ACCA firms offer several benefits for the ACCA fraternity, the business community and the society at large. Some of the major ones include:

  • Opening up of new horizons and opportunities
  • Jobs creation
  • Quality services
  • Greater acceptance of ACCA locally
  • Entrepreneurial rewards
  • Increased collaborations with worthy partners
  • Greater exposure

With the advent of CPEC and the corresponding developments, there is a lot of potential for quality accountants and firms offering the right services. Yes it will be challenging but the rewards are more than commensurate. So have a dream and turn it into a reality.

Session on FATCA

From: members.pk
Sent: Monday, September 26, 2016 6:05 PM
Subject: Webinar on Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA)

The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) is a recently implemented law which creates a new reporting and withholding regime for financial institutions but impacts individuals and other businesses too.  FATCA, despite being a US regulation, has global implications as it effectively covers all US persons. State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), Pakistan Banks Association (PBA), Securities & Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP), individual commercial banks, non-bank financial institutions and other stakeholders in their respective capacities

It is a very important area for the banking and financial services sector, and equally important for professionals from other sectors and industries.

Keeping in view of our tradition of keeping our members and affiliates up-to-date on important professional developments, we’ve organized a session on this current and highly in-demand topic.

Trainer’s Profile

Mr. Omer Zaheer Meer is an experienced accounting, finance, management and economics professional holding FCCA (senior ACCA member), CFA Charter, the Anti-Money Laundering Specialization, BSc (Hons) in Applied Accounting and several professional certifications from UK along-with 15 years of experience gained in top management positions in leading British and Pakistani companies.

Currently, he is the Managing Partner at Millennium Law & Corporate Company (pioneer ACCA practising firm in Pakistan) and a Director on the board of multiple organizations. Mr. Meer is an experienced trainer having worked with esteemed organizations in corporate, public and academic sectors. His portfolio includes having conducted mandatory promotional trainings of Government Officers at MPDD (Punjab Govt) as well as conducting programs at National Bank of Pakistan (NBP), HBL, LCCI, LTBA, Bahria University (Pak Navy), UET, e.t.c.

He is a regular contributor to various national and international publications like Daily Nation, Daily Times, Express Tribune and Blue Chip magazine.

Mr. Meer is also a life member and third-time serving Chairman Liaison Committee of Lahore Tax Bar Association, Member of Global Taxation Forum (ACCA UK), Member MNP and Chairman of the Taxation Subcommittee of ACCA (Pak), Member Taxation Committee LCCI, Director Millat Thinkers’ Forum, Member Hamdard Thinkers’ Forum and professionally associated with globally reputed organizations like ACCA (UK), CFAI (USA), UKSIP (UK), PRIMA (USA), PRMIA (USA),  MPDD (PAK) & www.mymfb.com

Topics Covered

        I.            What is Money Laundering?

      II.            Sources of Black Money

    III.            Money Laundering – Method

    IV.            Notable Cases of Money Laundering

      V.            Anti – Money Laundering (AML)

    VI.            Effective AML System

  VII.            Acronyms

VIII.            FATCA Regulations (including for Individual/Sole Proprietorship Accounts, Entities
and Change in circumstances of Existing entities) along-with impact on various stakeholders including businesses and individuals

    IX.            Q & A Session

Audience
ACCA Members & Affiliates, other Tax Professionals and professional accountants

When and Where
The event will be conducted only through Webinar.

Date & Time
3
0 September 2016, 03:00pm – 06:00pm

Registration

The participation fee for this webinar is Rs.5,000 and can be paid at all the ACCA Pakistan Offices to the Customer Services representatives.

The fee is fully waived for ACTIVE ACCA Members and Affiliates. 


All Members and Affiliates interested in attending the event should register before 29 September 2016 by filling up the registration form available on the link below.

Click here to register

CPD Units

03 Units

Haroon A Jan
Head of Member Affairs
ACCA Pakistan
61-C  Main Gulberg  Lahore Pakistan

cel: +92 (0)300 8466 322

tel: +92 (0)42 3598 7022
fax: +92 (0)42 3575 9346

Breaking new ground by combining our world leading ACCA Qualification with a Masters…

www.accaglobal.com/msc

 

R&I Session with AW Textile Mills Multan

Salam,

AllahWasaya Textile Mills is part of Maqbool group and is one of the oldest textile mills in Pakistan. I specially traveled to the historic city of Multan for an R&I session with them, where I represented ACCA. The response was phenomenal and sat a new record for ACCA in Multan.

It was a fantastic session which was highly appreciated and resulted in increased awareness of modern reporting issues for the participants. The brand recognition was enhanced with material future benefits expected to accrue for the ACCA fraternity, the profession and Pakistan, InshaAllah.

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Key ACCA Engagements with Employers – ACCA MNP Elections 2016-18

Assalam O Alikum,

I’ve done my best for ACCA fraternity and believe in generating value through excellence.

Even during these elections, I met with employers, attended and contributed to Research & Insights, conducted trainings for Members, e.t.c. as generating value for ACCA fraternity is most important for me.

Below are some of the pictures from the engagements with key employers, representing ACCA and creating opportunities for ACCA fraternity.

It is my vision and aim to build upon such historic successes for the betterment and professional development of ACCA fraternity.

This can only be possible with your vote and kind support in the ongoing MNP elections.

Please visit:  My Professional Profile, Achievements for ACCA & Manifesto  to consider me worthy of your valuable vote & kind support.

Thanks in anticipation.

Kind Regards,

Omer Zaheer Meer

(ACCA MNP Candidate Sr. No: 23)