Pros and cons of taxing agriculture income in Punjab discussed

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In a PILDAT briefing session on taxing the agricultural Income, Punjab Assembly members were briefed by experts on various pros and cons of taxing the agricultural income here on Friday.

Farmers are aware of their responsibilities and want to pay their taxes, but existing tax system needs to be reformed, Chaudhry Zaheer Uddin, MPA, PP-55, Faisalabad (V) and former Leader of the Opposition in the Punjab Assembly.

Speaking at the Briefing Session Ms Huzaima Ikram, Advocate High Court and Editor "Tax Review" said that the Agriculture Tax according to the Constitution is a provincial subject and the Provincial Assemblies should develop a mechanism to collect the Agriculture Tax effectively.

Dr Ikramul Haq, Advocate Supreme Court, and International Tax Counsel, was also of the opinion that the Agriculture Tax should be defined according to Article 162 of the Constitution.

The tax should be levied on the net income, he opined.

Dr Tariq Bucha, President Farmers Associates Pakistan briefed the members about the current status of the Agricultural Tax and its collection.

He said that the provincial governments have failed to develop an effective mechanism for the collection of the Agricultural Tax.

He said the tax is being collected by the Patwaris from the farmers, who do not issue any receipts or tax Challans to the farmers against the payments made.

This was causing a huge loss to the exchequer and the notion that the farmers do not want to pay taxes is taking roots.

He said that farmers understand the need of paying taxes and want to contribute towards the national development.

Only difference is on the collection mechanism.

Dr Tariq Bucha also presented suggestions to improve the tax collection.

He said that the government should remove bottlenecks in the tax collection.

Farmers should have more excess to the financial resources and should be provided soft agricultural loans.

Muhammad Mohsin Leghari, MPA, PP-245, Dera Ghazi Khan-(VI) was also of the opinion that the government has failed to implement and collect taxes from the farmers.

He said that agricultural economy was the most documented in Pakistan but the government has not capitalised on it and has consistently lacked the will to implement the taxes in spite of the farmers being willing to pay taxes.

Chaudhry Zaheer Uddin, MPA PP-55, Faisalabad (V) in closing remarks said that the notion that the farmers do not want to pay their taxes should be dispelled.

Successive governments have not been able to implement the collection mechanism.

He emphasised that the government can start collecting the existing tax by improving the collection system so that the agriculture sector can contribute towards national development.

The briefing session was followed by an active question answer session.

MPAs also argued that since a majority of the Assembly members have agricultural background, the perception in public is developing that Assemblies are protecting their own interests which is counter-productive.

Courtesy: Business Recorder

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