Islamabad: Forty-seven per cent of 1,070 lawmakers elected to Pakistan`s national and provincial assemblies earlier this year did not pay income tax and 12 per cent do not even have a National Tax Number.
Members of the National Assembly or lower house of parliament who did not pay taxes belong to all the major parties, according to a media report today.
The PML-N has the lion`s share with 54 parliamentarians. Imran Khan`s Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf follows with 19 non-taxpaying Mps.
The Pakistan People`s Party has 13, the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam seven and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement five.
Parliamentarians whose tax declarations were contradicted by the Federal Board of Revenue include big names like Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Imran Khan, his party`s vice chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi, National Assembly Speaker Ayaz Sadiq, JUI chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, MQM parliamentary leader Farooq Sattar, The News daily reported.
Capt (retired) Muhammad Safdar, Sharif`s son-in-law, is among those who do have a National Tax Number.
Of 550 lawmakers who declared tax payments in their nomination papers, 31 per cent include top leaders whose official records show that they either exaggerated the amount or paid zero tax.
The record of 54 lawmakers was not available for checking, the report said.
Of 680 members who declared their incomes in their nomination papers, 25 per cent were identified as showing lower earnings to the Federal Board of Revenue for tax deduction.
Imran Khan figured in this list with Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan.
In a recent newspaper article, Britain`s outgoing High Commissioner Adam Thomson said foreign aid is not a long-term solution and asked Pakistan to widen its tax net to include the elite who "can afford luxury cars and foreign trips but can?t afford to pay their taxes".
"The problem starts at the top. By paying their fair share of taxes and backing tax reform, businesses, wealthy individuals and elected politicians in Pakistan can lead by example," he wrote.
According to the Federal Board of Revenue, less than 0.5 per cent of Pakistanis pay income tax. That is just 750,000 individuals out of a population of some 180 million.
Tax revenue in Pakistan, as a proportion of GDP, is around nine per cent, compared with 14 per cent for countries with similar per capita incomes.