The World Bank has recently backtracked from its initial advice of imposing tax on individuals earning a monthly sum of less than Rs50,000, clarifying that this proposal was based on 2019 statistics.
In light of new data from the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), the salaried class has outpaced the real-estate sector and exporters in tax contributions over the past quarter. Addressing the misinterpretation, a spokesperson from the World Bank remarked, “The framing of the earlier suggestion might indeed have been misleading.”
The World Bank highlighted that their initial suggestion was rooted in 2019 data. With the subsequent rise in inflation and changes in the labour market, there’s a pressing need to update this data to protect low-income brackets. The Bank’s statement elucidated, “Previous analysis from 2019 indicated a potential restructuring of the income tax system. However, this analysis requires revision considering recent economic fluctuations to ensure the well-being of those with lower incomes.”
Clarifications and Forward Recommendations
The World Bank conceded that its recommendations in the Pakistan Development Update (PDU) should have been more transparent about the necessity for an updated analysis. The institution is currently advocating for a comprehensive overhaul of the tax structure. Their vision is to fashion a more progressive system that places a greater tax responsibility on the affluent.
In line with this vision, the Bank’s proposed reforms include minimizing subsidies, abolishing regressive tax exemptions, and elevating tax imposition on high-earning individuals. Additionally, there’s an emphasis on refining the taxation process for the agricultural, property, and retail sectors.
“Any adjustments to tax thresholds should be driven by fresh survey insights, with a core focus on safeguarding those with lower incomes,” the World Bank further clarified.
Given the soaring inflation and increasing living costs, the Bank’s initial suggestion had understandably evoked apprehension among those earning Rs50,000 or less, currently exempted from direct taxation.