Bad amnesty


As expected, the government is being pressurized to withdraw proposals to recover looted tax money by property speculators and such like-minded people. A firm of chartered accountants has recommended that a ‘one time amnesty scheme’ be announced for those who have deprived the nation of sorely-needed revenue by paying much lower taxes on property transactions by grossly declaring lower property values. Over the past 60 years, we have seen many such amnesty schemes, but the result is that the nation has grown poorer while those who whiten their black money go on getting richer. They know that they will never be punished so they go on cheating, expecting a tax amnesty every two years to whitewash their crimes.
Tax amnesties have always failed in the past, so why are the experts again advising the government to avoid punishing the criminals? Things have become so bad that honest taxpayers are regretting why they have always paid tax on their incomes. Should all honest taxpayers migrate to other countries so they don’t have to live among thieves and criminals? Or should they simply kill themselves, their wives and their children? Instead of a two or three percent recovery on evaded taxes, the government should get tough and recover thirty percent as per the existing law. For the present, it can waive the other punishments, like a thirty percent penalty and two years imprisonment. But it should not buckle under pressure. Let’s not forget, Pakistan is fighting a war for its very survival and needs every rupee to win this war. A tax amnesty will only embolden the racketeers, who think it is their right to break laws to enrich themselves.
Shakir Lakhani
Printed in The News, July 16, 2016