Saturday, January 29, 2022

Pakistan Budget FY 2019-20: Income Tax measures


Zubair Yaqoob
The author has diversified experience in investigative journalism. He is Chief content editor at

Deatails of income tax measures in the budget FY 2019-20;

Relief Measures

Payment of refunds through promissory notes

Huge amounts claimed by taxpayers are stuck up in refunds causing a liquidity crunch for businesses. These refunds have accumulated over a long time. However, issuance of a substantial amount of refund would drastically reduce the net collection of taxes. In view of this a provision has been introduced wherein
promissory notes would be issued to claimants at their option by a newly formed company called the FBR Refund Settlement Company Limited. The bonds are to have a maturity period of three years after which the company shall return the promissory note to the Board and the Board shall make payment of amount due
under bonds along with profit due to the bond holders.

Rationalization of punitive measures for late filers

Presently law prohibits placing a person’s name on the active taxpayers’ list for the year if the return is not filed within the due date. Hence, a person who files a return of income after the due date would be subjected to higher tax rates meant for persons not appearing on ATL, for the ensuing year, creating a disincentive
towards return filing. The condition of not placing name on ATL for the whole year is being abolished. Instead, such a person would be penalized by withholding any refund due to a late-filer in the tax year in which the return was filed late without incurring any liability of compensation for delayed refund.
Further, a nominal tax for placement on ATL after the due date of filing of return has been imposed as under:-

Income tax 1


Tax credit for persons employing fresh graduates

In order to create opportunities of employment for fresh graduates a new tax credit for persons employing freshly qualified graduates is being introduced. Persons employing fresh qualified graduates, having graduated after 1st July 2017, from universities or institutions recognized by the Higher Education
Commission would be given a tax credit equal to the amount of annual salary paid to such graduates. The tax credit shall be deducted from the tax payable by such persons and would be in addition to the expenditure claimed by businesses on payment of salary to their employees. In case the tax credit cannot be fully allowed for a tax year, persons claiming such credit would be allowed to carry forward un-adjusted credit to a maximum period of five years. However, the credit will be allowed against salary of those fresh graduates which are not more than 15% of the total employees.

Read also: Pakistan Budget FY 2019-20: Salient features of Customs Duty

 Exemption for allowances of Armed Forces Personnel

Various allowances being given to Armed Forces Personnel i.e. internal security allowance and compensation in lieu of bearer allowance are being exempted from tax.

Revenue Measures

Gift to be treated as income

At present gift is not taxed in the hands of the recipient. Receipt of gift is employed to reconcile wealth acquired through undisclosed sources of income. Therefore receipt of gift has been brought within the ambit of income under the head “income from other sources”. Consequently any amount in cash or fair market value of any property including immovable property would be treated as gift. However, certain exclusions are also proposed to facilitate genuine gift transactions which are not meant to evade income tax.

Enhancing the rate of minimum turnover tax

Presently minimum tax on turnover is charged at the rate of 1.25% of the turnover if taxable income is less than 1.25% of turnover. Certain sectors have reduced rate of minimum tax at 0.2%, 0.25% & 0.5% of turnover. The aforesaid rates of minimum tax are being enhanced from 1.25% to 1.5%, from 0.20% to 0.25%, from 0.25% to 0.3% and from 0.5% to 0.75% respectively.

Abolishing tax credit for investment in BMR

Presently a corporate industrial undertakings investing in purchase of plant & machinery for extension, expansion, balancing, modernizing & replacement are allowed tax credit equal to ten percent of the purchase price of machinery. This facility of tax credit was introduced through the Finance Act, 2010 with a sunset
clause ending on 30th June 2015 which has been amended multiple times, resulting in extension of the facility up to tax year 2021. The said tax credit is being allowed to those companies which purchase and install plant & machinery up to 30th June, 2019. Further, for the tax year 2019, the tax credit is being
reduced from 10% to 5% of the purchase value of machinery. However industrial undertakings which have already claimed this tax credit but could not fully adjust the credit against tax payable would still be entitled to carry forward the unabsorbed available credit of prior years.

Special provisions for persons not appearing on Active Taxpayer’s List

Presently the law provides for the concept of a non-filer and stipulates higher withholding rates for the same which are adjustable at the time of filing of incomemtax return. This tax regime has created a misconception that a non-filer can go scot free by choosing not to file income tax return. The measure was meant to increase the number of filers, however over time the focus shifted to raising additional revenue only. The measure has not achieved the desired results as the present regime does not provide for any legal framework to ensure filing of return by such non filers. In order to remove the aforesaid misconception, the concept and the term of “non-filer” is being abolished from the statute, wherever occurring. In its stead a
separate Schedule is being introduced to specifically provide a legal framework for punitive measures for persons not appearing on ATL and to ensure filing of return by such persons. The main attributes of this scheme are as under:-

  • Persons whose names are not appearing on the ATL will be subjected to hundred percent increased rate of tax.
  • The withholding agents will clearly specify the names, CNIC or any other identification of such persons in the withholding statement so that legal provisions to enforce return can come into effect.
  • Where a withholding agent is of the opinion that hundred percent increased tax is not required to be collected on the basis that the person was not required to file return, the withholding agent shall furnish an intimation to the Commissioner setting out the basis on which the person is not required to file return. The Commissioner shall accept or reject the contention on the basis of existing law. In case the Commissioner fails to respond within thirty days, permission shall be deemed to be granted to not deduct tax at hundred percent increased rate.
  • Where the person’s tax has been deducted or collected at hundred percent increased rate and the person fails to file return of income for the year for which tax was deducted, the Commissioner shall make a provisional assessment within sixty days of the due date for filing of return by imputing income so that tax on imputed income is equal to the hundred percent increased tax deducted or collected from such person and the imputed income shall be treated as concealed income.
  • The provisional assessment shall be of no effect if the person files return within forty five days of completion of provisional assessment and the provisions of the Ordinance shall apply accordingly. Where return is not filed within forty five days of provisional assessment, it shall be treated as final assessment and the Commissioner shall initiate penalty proceedings for concealment of income.
Additional slabs of income from property

At present there are five taxable slabs of income from property with the highest slab’s rate being Rs. 200,000/- plus 20% of income exceeding Rs. 2000,000. Now the said slab is being limited from Rs 2000,000/- to 4,000,000/- and thereafter three additional brackets of income between four to six million, six to eight million and exceeding eight million are being added

Increase in tax rates for services

At present, the general rate of tax on services is eight percent but certain services have a reduced rate of 2% of turnover as given in clause (94) of Part IV of Second Schedule. The aforesaid clause (94) is being omitted and the tax rate for services therein having reduced rate of 2% of turnover, is being increased to
4% of the gross amount of turnover. Further the present rate of 2% for transport services is also being increased to 4%.

Withholding tax on royalty to a resident person

At present withholding tax is deducted on any payment of royalty to a nonresident person. However, there is no such withholding tax in case of payment of royalty to a resident person. Therefore a withholding tax at the rate of 15% of the gross amount of royalty to be deducted from resident persons is being

Revising the threshold of taxable income

Prior to Finance Act 2018, the threshold of taxable income for both salaried and non-salaried persons was Rs.400,000. Through the Finance Act, 2018, the threshold was increased to Rs.1,200,000. The threshold of taxable income is generally a proportion of the per capita income of a country. Such significant increase is unprecedented and distortionary, resulting in revenue loss also. Therefore it has been proposed that the threshold of taxable income may be revised and fixed at Rs.600,000 for salaried persons and Rs.400,000 for nonsalaried persons.

Increase in tax rates for Salaried and Non Salaried persons

Presently the tax rates for salaried persons are applicable to persons having 50% or more of their total income from salary. Now these tax rates for salaried persons are to be applicable to persons having 75% or more of their total income from salary. Consequently for persons having salary income less than 75% of
total income, the rates applicable to non-salaried individuals would apply. In the case of salaried individuals deriving income exceeding Rs.600,000, eleven taxable slabs with progressive tax rates ranging from 5% to 35% are being introduced as under:-

For non-salaried persons deriving income exceeding Rs.400,000, eight taxable slabs of income with tax rates ranging from 5% to 35% are being introduced in the following manner:-


Freezing of Corporate Tax Rate

The tax rate for companies has gradually been decreased from 35% in tax year 2013, to 30% in tax year 2018.Through the Finance Act, 2018, the tax rate for companies was further intended to be reduced from 30% in tax year 2018 to 25% in tax year 2023. At present, for tax year 2019 the tax rate is 29%. As the tax
rates have already been reduced from 35% to 29% in the last six years, and the fact that Pakistan has the lowest corporate tax rate in the region, the tax rate for companies has been fixed at 29% in order to recover and maintain the tax base to ensure revenue.

Taxation of Capital Gains on immoveable properties

At present capital gain on immovable properties is subject to separate taxation on the basis of holding period of property. The tax rates are 10%, 7.5% and 5% for holding periods less than one year, between one to two years and between two to three years respectively. There is no tax if the property is held for more
than three years. In order to check tax evasion and to ensure equal taxation of all incomes, income from capital gains is being brought under the normal tax regime and taxed at normal rates. However, to account for the time value of money, the gain on open plots would be reduced on the basis of net present value so that where the holding period is upto one year the full gain will be taxed. Where the holding period is between one to ten years, 75% of the gain shall be taxed and there will be no tax in case the holding period is more than ten years. Similarly, gain on sale of constructed property is to be fully taxed where the
holding period is upto one year and 75% of the gain will be taxed where the holding period is between one to five years. Where the holding period is above five years no gains shall be taxed

Taxation of the Real Estate Sector

In Pakistan the Real Estate sector is one of the biggest sources of money laundering and is used as a parking lot for untaxed as well as ill-gotten money. In view of this a wide range of steps have been taken to restructure the taxation of this sector. The various steps being taken are as under:-

(i) At present, the Board has issued valuation tables of immovable properties in 21 major cities wherein such properties are valued at a value higher than the DC rates. The purchasers are also required to pay 3% tax on the difference between the DC value and FBR value of property to explain the source of investment to the extent of differential between FBR value and DC value. The rates notified by the Board are still considerably lower than actual market value. It is therefore intended that FBR rates of immovable properties would be taken closer to or about 85% of actual market value. In addition, 3% tax for not explaining the source of investment is being withdrawn.

(ii) As the increase in FBR values of immovable property is going to increase the incidence of tax on genuine buyers and sellers, the rate of withholding tax on purchase of immovable property is being reduced from 2% to 1%.

(iii) At present, withholding tax on purchase of property is attracted only if the value of property is more than four million rupees. The threshold of four million rupees is being abolished and withholding tax on purchase is to be collected irrespective of the value of property.

(iv) At present, there is no withholding tax on sale of property if the property is held for a period of more than three years. Since capital gain is to be taxed under normal tax regime even beyond the period of three years, withholding tax on sale of property would be collected where the holding period is upto five years.

(v) Presently the law imposes restriction on registration or transfer of property having fair market value exceeding rupees five million in the name of a nonfiler. The aforesaid restriction placed on purchase of immovable property is being withdrawn.

Transition from Final Tax Regime to Minimum Tax Regime

Income tax by its inherent nature is tax charged and levied on income. However presently persons involved in certain transactions are not required to pay tax on their actual profit. Instead, the tax collected or deducted on these transactions is treated as final tax liability. This regime is available persons to such as
commercial importers, commercial suppliers of goods, contractors, persons deriving brokerage or commission income and persons earning income from CNG stations. The tax collected or deducted from the aforesaid persons shall now be treated as minimum tax liability except for exporters, persons winning
prizes and sellers of petroleum products. This measure is designed as a first step for gradual phasing out of the final tax regime and transition to income based taxation for all persons.

Computation of income for Super tax

Presently brought forward depreciation and business losses are excluded while computing income for calculating liability of super tax. However, such losses are not excluded in the case of banking, insurance, oil and mineral exploration companies. In order to ensure similar tax treatment, brought forward business
and depreciation losses have been excluded from income computed to calculate super tax in the case of the above mentioned sectors.

Tax on Dividend income

At present dividend income is not part of income under normal tax regime and is subject to separate taxation. The standard rate of tax on dividend income is 15%. The present tax rate of 7.5% on dividend received on shares of a company set up for power generation or on shares of a company supplying coal exclusively to power generation projects is being increased to 15%. Further, tax rate of dividend is being charged at 25% for persons receiving dividend from companies which enjoy exemption of tax on income or where no tax is payable due to availability of tax credits or due to brought forward business or depreciation losses. Presently the rate of tax on dividend received by a person from a mutual fund is 10% and 12.5%. Persons receiving dividend from stock fund is also taxed 12.5%. Furthermore dividend received by a person from a development REIT scheme is reduced by 50% of the normal rate. Now all these rates are being enhanced to 15%. For withholding tax on dividend also a standard rate of 15% is being
applied for persons receiving income.

Abolishing initial allowance on buildings

Presently initial allowance at the rate of 15% is allowed in the case of buildings. The said initial allowance on buildings is being abolished.

Taxation of Profit on Debt

Presently the profit on debt is taxed separately and is not part of the income in normal tax regime. The tax rates are 10%, 12.5% and 15% for slabs upto five million rupees, between five million to twenty five million rupees and above twenty five million rupees respectively. The rates are being revised wherein tax rates for profit on debt not exceeding Rs 5 million shall be increased from 10% to 15%, between Rs 5 and 25 million tax rates shall be increased from 12.5% to 17.5% and from 25 to 36 million tax rates are being increased from 15% to 20%. The rate of advance withholding tax on payment of profit on debt is also being enhanced from 10% to 15%. Furthermore, the separate rates mentioned above would be applicable for profit on debt up to Rs.36 million and for amounts exceeding Rs. 36 million the profit on debt will be made part of the total income and taxed at normal rates.

Measures to avoid profit shifting to dealer

A new provision has been introduced to combat profit shifting by manufacturers, in the form of excess commission to commission agents/dealers, to avoid their actual tax liability. Now any amount of commission paid in excess of 0.2 percent of the gross amount of supplies shall be disallowed unless the dealer is registered under the Sales Tax Act, 1990 and also appearing in the active taxpayers list of income tax. Further, where the excess commission is being paid to a dealer who is an associate, 75% of margin paid to dealer is to be treated as income of the supplier.

Reduction in limit of foreign remittance as source of investment

Presently foreign remittance equivalent to Rs. 10 million as a source of investment can not be probed. Now the said threshold is being reduced from Rs.10 million to Rs.5 million for explaining the source of investment through foreign remittance.

Streamlining taxation of banking companies

Banks generally do not offer for taxation the provisions which were previously allowed but later on reversed. Therefore reversal of provisions already allowed is being made taxable by inserting an explanation in the Seventh Schedule. Banks are also allowed to claim deduction in respect of provisions classified as
“doubtful” and “loss”. Now only deductions only in respect of provisions classified as “loss” are to be allowed. Banks are earning substantial profits on account of incremental exposure to government securities. Therefore profit from such government securities as is in excess of twenty percent of total profit before tax is being taxed separately at the rate of 37.5%.

Useful life of intangibles

At present, expenditure regarding intangibles is amortized over the useful life of the intangible. However, where the intangible has a useful life exceeding ten years, the expenditure is amortized over a maximum period of ten years. In this way, large Built-Operate-Transfer projects amortize their intangible expenditure
over a period of ten years whereas their useful life is more than twenty years. Now amendment is being made in law wherein the expenditure regarding intangibles be amortized over a period of 25 years where the useful life is unascertainable. Further, it has also been proposed that where the useful life of
the intangible is ascertainable the expenditure regarding the intangible be amortized over the actual number of years for which such intangible is to be used.

Enhancing withholding tax rate on dealers, commission agents & arhatis

Presently every market committee is required to collect advance tax from dealers, commission agents and arhatis at the time of issuance or renewal of licenses. Now the tax rates are being increase for Class A from Rs 10,000 to Rs 100,000/-, for Class B from Rs 7,500 to 75,000/-, for Class C from Rs 5,000/- to
Rs. 50,000 and for any other category from Rs 5,000/-. To Rs. 50,000/-.

Procedural Measures

Purchase of assets through banking channel

In order to ensure documentation of real estate transactions and also to ascertain the actual value of a transaction of purchase of asset, persons purchasing immovable property of fair market value greater than rupees five million and one million or more in the case of any other asset, would now be required to make
payment for the said purchase through a crossed banking instrument so that transaction can be clearly identified from one bank account to another. In case of non-compliance, the deductions in respect of depreciation and amortization in respect of such assets shall not be allowed. Further, the amount of purchase shall not be treated as cost for calculation of any gain on sale of such asset. A
penalty at the rate of five percent of FBR value of asset is being be imposed for violation of this requirement.

Simplified tax regime for certain persons

The Federal government seeks to bring certain persons in the tax net by incentivizing such persons through simplified taxation and simplified procedures of record keeping, tax payment, return filing and assessment. The intended sectors are small businesses, construction businesses, medical practitioners, hospitals, educational institutions, and any other sector specified. Therefore an enabling provision has been introduced which authorizes the Federal Government, to notify the aforementioned special provisions in such cities or
territories, as may be specified.

Streamlining of tax credits under section 100C

Presently, under section 100C, non-profit organizations, trusts and welfare institutions are allowed hundred percent tax credit subject to certain conditions. However, NPOs are only allowed this 100 % credit on the condition that they are recognized by the Commissioner according to a prescribed procedure whereas,
there is no such requirement of recognition for trusts and welfare institutions. Now in order to ensure similar treatment and oversight, trusts and welfare institutions shall also be required to obtain recognition from Commissioner to avail the facility of 100% tax credit.

Independent evaluation of non-arm’s length transactions between associates

Entering into non-arm’s length transactions is a common method employed by associated companies to evade income tax by not declaring transactions on their true market value. In order to ascertain the actual market price in such situations, a comprehensive data of comparable is required. Since such data is not readily available, the Commissioner is being empowered to obtain such data from an independent chartered accountant or cost accountant.

Recovery of AOP’s liability from member

Under the existing law, tax payable by a member of association of persons can be recovered from the association itself. On the contrary, tax payable by an association of persons cannot be recovered from its member. Now where any tax payable by an association of persons cannot be recovered, the same would be
recovered from any person who is a member of the association. The member would thereafter be allowed to recover the tax paid by him from the AOP.

Separation of Audit and Assessment

Presently when a taxpayer is selected for audit of its tax affairs, the Commissioner is required to obtain taxpayer’s explanation on issues raised in audit and thereafter, amend the assessment, if need be. The assessment function of the said process is being separated from the audit function. The functions of audit and assessment shall be performed by separate and independent officers to ensure impartial treatment to the taxpayers.

Business Registration Scheme

At present, only taxpayers are required to register with the Board for tax purposes. Persons deriving business income who are otherwise not required to file return being below taxable threshold are not required to register. In order to create a verifiable database of all persons deriving business income, a new registration scheme is being introduced where every person deriving business income, even if below the tax threshold shall be required to register with the Board through NADRA’s e-sahulat centres.. However, it would create a database which would be a source of detecting new taxpayers in the future.

Authority to amend the order of recovery from withholding agent

Where a tax is required to be collected or deducted by a withholding agent but fails to deduct or collect tax or deposit the same, tax is recoverable from the withholding agent through a recovery order. Such order to recover tax is at times erroneous or prejudicial to interest of revenue but there is no provision in law to
amend such order. Therefore a provision to amend order of recovery has been introduced subject to the condition that such power shall not be exercised by an officer below the rank of Additional Commissioner Inland Revenue.

Amendment in the definition of resident individual

Presently a resident individual for a tax year is defined as an individual who is present in Pakistan for a period of, or periods amounting in aggregate to, one hundred and eighty-three days or more in the tax year or is an employee or official of the Federal Government or a Provincial Government posted abroad in the tax year. Now the definition of resident is being amended to include an individual present in Pakistan for a period of, or periods amounting in aggregate to, ninety days or more in the tax year and who, in the four years preceding the tax year, has been in Pakistan for a period of, or periods amounting in aggregate to, three hundred and sixty-five days or more.

Automated Impersonal Tax Regime

A new provision is being introduced which authorizes the Board to design an Automated Impersonal Tax Regime and prescribe rules in respect of the same through a notification in the gazette. The purpose of this regime is to minimize the interaction between officials and taxpayers which are low risk and compliant.

Restricting the scope of power of the Federal Government to grant exemption

At present, the Federal Government has the power to grant exemption from any tax or reduce a tax rate or tax liability whenever circumstances exist to take immediate action for the purposes of national security, natural disaster, national food security in emergency situations, protection of national economic interests in
situations arising out of abnormal fluctuation in international commodity prices, removal of anomalies in taxes, development of backward areas, implementation of bilateral and multilateral agreements or granting an exemption from any tax imposed under this Ordinance to any international financial institution or foreign
Government owned financial institution. Now the aforesaid power to grant exemption is being limited to the extent of emergency situations only and that the power to grant exemption to remove anomaly in taxes and for development of backward areas is being be withdrawn. Any exemption in the case of anomaly of taxes and for development of backward areas would be granted through an Act of Parliament or through an Ordinance if the Parliament is not in session.

Proceedings against persons committing financial malpractices

In order to effectively check misuse of authority to gain financial benefit, a new enabling provision is being introduced to prescribe rules for initiating criminal proceedings against officers and officials of the Board who deliberately commit acts or fail to act for personal benefits. Similar action would also be taken against persons who offer bribes or other financial benefits to the tax employees.

Read also: Pakistan Budget FY 2019-20: Salient features of Sales Tax and Federal Excise measures

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