Income tax sans council’s nod illegal

GILGIT, Jan 6: As the new year started with the report that the federal government had issued a notification levying income tax in Gilgit-Baltistan from January 1, a member of the Gilgit-Baltistan Council’s tax committee said without the nod from the council no tax can be imposed in the region. As a result, there is confusion among the people of the region who are not sure whether at the end of the month they would have to pay the tax or the matter would be delayed or scrapped altogether. It may be noted here that a joint secretary at the GB Council secretariat in Islamabad had told the press that income tax would be imposed in the region from Jan 1 and in that regard a notification had already been issued. However, talking to this correspondent in Gilgit, Amjad Advocate, a member of the GB Council’s tax committee, said the council had some reservations regarding imposition of the income tax in the region. As a result, he added, a committee was formed to look into the matter. He said he was a member of the committee but so far they had not come to any conclusion when and how the tax would be imposed. He said the committee had even not convened a meeting to discuss the matter so far. Under the self-governance and autonomy order of 2009, the power to levy tax in the region is vested with the GB Council, and the region’s legislative assembly had no role in it. He said they were demanding that the federal government should return the Rs13 billion of Gilgit-Baltistan which it owed to us in the forms of different taxes collected from the region. Other provinces get this amount in the form of NFC award while the funds for Azad Kashmir are given to Muzaffarabad through a notification. He said the people of Gilgit-Baltistan should also be given their rights before imposing the income tax on them. On the other hand, an official in the Federal Board of Revenue also said that the tax cannot be imposed unless and until the GB Council made the necessary legislation in this regard. But even if the tax is imposed in the region without the mandatory legislation by the council, it would become clear that the house is just a show piece and has no say in the affairs of the region.  ]]>