Study finds Pakistan Officials don’t pay taxes

PAKISTAN- A recent study from the Center for Peace and Development Initiatives and the Center for Investigative Reporting in Pakistan found that less that 1/3 of Parliment members of Pakistan file tax returns annually. This report causes concern for foreign donors and ordinary Pakistanis regarding tax evasion by the highest elites within their society.
Only 126 of 446 of these lawmakers filed returns in 2011. Among these was the President of Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari.

The report does not take into account automatic taxes taken out of their parliament salaries automatically but includes supplemental discretionary income made on top of their salaries. This says a lot as this type of income should be claimed and it is up to the individuals to do so at their own will.

The country raises questions regarding many a politicians that enjoy a lifestyle that far exceeds their salaries. Especially seeing as how the many of the perpetrators of this tax evasion are some of the highest elected officials. With so many elite evading taxes including the elected officials responsible for enforcing them it begs the question why the country even has them at all.

“Tax evasion has become a social norm in our country,” said Umar Cheema, an investigative journalist who compiled the report. “People don’t consider it a crime. But this tax demand established a bond between the people and the state. That’s how you become a stakeholder in society.”

Pakistan has one of the lowest rates of income tax collection in world. Only 2 percent of their entire population are registered to pay taxes and fewer than a quarter of that 2 percent actually do. That means that only a half a percent of their population actually pays taxes. Pretty rough when you think that taxes are what builds government and a society.

Of these tax evaders the wealthy make up  a prominent percentage with the poor having to take up the slack.

Even when these tax evaders are caught red handed, they are rarely, if ever prosecuted, due to the corruption on government.

This tax evasion crisis begs the question to foreign donors why bother donating when these donating dollars are more than likely misspent and misappropriated. Only time will tell if Pakistan will get their act together or if this rampant tax evasion will continue to proliferate their society.