SC wants poor to be exempted from telecom taxes in Pakistan

The Supreme Court of Pakistan on Monday while hearing the suo moto case related to the telecom taxes in Pakistan observed that the government should act honestly on tax matters and stressed that tax procedures should be made easy for Pakistanis where the CNIC card can be used to identify taxpayers.

A three-member bench of the apex court headed by Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa headed the proceedings and remarked that the state considers that the citizens should consider themselves whether they would pay taxes.

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Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa also asked the government how many people have demanded a refund of advance tax and the court has to see that when and how much of telecom tax would be applicable to be people. The court will also have to consider whether the government authorities enforced the tax law correctly or not as a huge amount was taken from people to fill up the national exchequer.

Attorney General for Pakistan Anwar Mansoor Khan while answering the court’s question stated that every telco user pays advance tax on the mobile card and for those who are exempted from paying income taxes can demand a refund.

The counsel representing the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) also revealed that after the suspension of one point of tax collection by the Supreme Court, Rs. 90 billion of telecom taxes in Pakistan were not collected to which Chief Justice replied that the court could void a law but not suspend it.

Justice Qazi Faez Isa observed that the Supreme Court will also have to review utility tax along with income tax. Justice Ijaz Ul Ahsan remarked that the court had not suspended the law but only the recovery of withholding tax from telecom users.

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He remarked that the state should be sincere with its citizens and stated that advance tax according to the definition was income tax and how could a telecom consumer, who does not fall into the tax bracket, pay this. He further observed that the government should create such a mechanism where non-filers should not be burdened with paying telecom taxes in Pakistan.

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