When governments make promises, they often are intended to either appease or fool the public. A “one page simplified Tax Return Form”, is one of many such promises being made for past several years.
Citizens perceive paying income tax as a complex and cumbersome process that cannot be accomplished without the help of lawyers and accountants. This often involves paying more money to the tax lawyer than the amount paid to the government. The cost and the fear of filling tax returns is so great that people try their best to avoid even filing a tax return. . Over 90 honorable parliamentarians also fall in this meritorious category.
Pakistan has been held back by a colonial bureaucracy that refuses to adopt modern and unconventional reforms. Why can we not understand that 2.2 million (1%) tax payers cannot sustain a population of 210 million people. A simple non-threatening, bi-lingual, one page tax form, easily understandable by a 10th class student is all that is needed to radically transform our tax base.
The one page tax form ought to be massively advertised and explained on TV and not changed from year to year. The current e-filing (sounds impressive) is too complex for most citizens. People should be able to themselves fill the paper version (without going to a consultant), sign, attach a cheque, place in a postage-paid envelope and deliver the same to any post office. It should then be the responsibility of the post office to ensure it is safely delivered to FBR.
Filing of tax return must be obligatory for all citizens beyond an annual income of 400,000 while restrictions such as foreign travel or purchase of cars ought to be imposed for the non tax payers.