Pakistan publishes tax directory; honest tax payers not amused

Apr 17 2014, 19:29 IST
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Pakistan has become the fourth country in the world to publish tax particulars of all its registered taxpayers. Reuters Pakistan has become the fourth country in the world to publish tax particulars of all its registered taxpayers. Reuters
SummaryPakistan has become the fourth country in the world to publish tax particulars of all its registered taxpayers.

In a bid to embarrass tax-evaders, cash-strapped Pakistan has published its first tax directory showing income tax details of taxpayers – a mere 0.8 million - a move appreciated but also questioned by many.

Pakistan, which is waging a battle against tax evaders under pressure from international lending houses, has thus become the fourth country in the world to publish tax particulars of all its registered taxpayers.

Sweden, Finland and Norway had issued tax directories before Pakistan.

"The directory will act as a recognition for genuine tax payers and an embarrassment for those who don't pay tax at all or those whose tax returns do not match their lifestyle," Shahid Asad, the spokesman of the Federal Board of Revenue told PTI.

"It is like name and shame," he said.

Asked why the government did not directly name all tax defaulters, he said, "It is practically impossible. We will have to give names of millions of people."

It is interesting to note that a little over 0.8 million Pakistanis pay taxes in a country of over 180 million.

"This is an important milestone in providing access to information to the general public and should help in creating a sense of public awareness, motivation and transparency," Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said in the foreword of the Tax Directory.

The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has issued the tax directory on the direction of Dar, who instructed FBR to publish a list of all taxpayers, including lawmakers, for the tax year 2013.

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