Islamabad: Pakistan has become a haven for those not paying their taxes, said a leading daily that noted "nobody will ask any questions, let alone arrest and punish anyone" for tax evasion.
An editorial in the Dawn on Thursday said: "Pakistan is a haven for those who do not want to pay their taxes. Nobody will ask any questions, let alone arrest and punish anyone for tax pilferage, even if the lifestyle being maintained is luxurious and well beyond one`s declared means."
It noted that the number of people filing income tax returns has dropped over the years.
"This year, for example, less than one percent out of 180 million people filed their income tax returns."
The editorial pointed out that those who do not pay taxes are "the country`s wealthy elite, including politicians, generals, landlords, traders and others who have very intelligently kept their incomes out of the net".
It went on to say that revenue generated through tax "accounts for less than 10 percent of the country`s GDP, one of the lowest in the world despite the heavy indirect taxation on the common people. This leaves economic survival heavily dependent on foreign aid and loans".
It hoped that authorities will soon take steps to bring into the tax net the 2.3 million people who have been identified as having "sufficient financial resources" but who do not file returns.
"The principles of fairness and equity demand that the drive does not leave out the powerful regardless of their political clout if the purpose of the exercise is to instil fear of the law in the hearts of tax evaders."