How to Become a Filer and Be Included in the Federal Board of Revenue's (FBR's) Income Tax Active Taxpayers List
Benefits to Expatriate / Non-Resident Pakistanis of Becoming a Filer - Active Taxpayers List
Why it is important for expatriate Pakistanis to file their income tax return in Pakistan
Expatriate Pakistanis often invest in real estate, stock exchange, saving schemes, mutual funds, and prize bonds. They also purchase vehicles and immovable properties. In order to make investments they also have to open an account and make certain transactions.
As per tax laws in Pakistan, any person who purchases a plot, house or vehicle has to pay double the amount of income tax at the time of purchase if he is not a “filer.”
A "filer" is a person whose name exists on the Active Taxpayers List (ATL) updated by the FBR on every Monday. The Active Taxpayers List is updated on the basis of income tax returns filed by the taxpayers. For example, if you file your tax return for tax year 2016 on Tuesday, your name will be included in the Active Taxpayers’ List on the following Monday. The list of active taxpayers is updated by FBR on Monday. There are complaints that banks' data is not updated until Tuesday, which is quite unfair.
So if you file your tax return, even if you are an expatriate/non-resident, you will receive the benefits of a filer and the tax will be reduced by more than 50%. For example, if you buy a plot valued at Rs.8.00 million, you will have to pay tax of Rs.320,000 if you have not filed your tax return, but if you are a filer, you have to pay just Rs.160,000. Similarly, on the purchase of a vehicle, the tax for a non-filer is double that paid by a filer.
The other big loss associated with non-filing of a return is that you have lost your claim of refund, as the taxes deducted on purchase of vehicle and immovable properties, in most of the cases, are adjustable. If you are a non-resident Pakistani, you are not liable to pay any tax on your income earned abroad. This means that while filing the return you can claim refund of tax paid on properties/vehicles.
As per tax laws in Pakistan, every owner of a plot measuring more than 500 square yard or owner of a property is required to file his tax return. If you have not filed your tax return, \you have violated the Pakistan tax laws.
Pakistan has double taxation avoidance treaties with many countries, which, in many cases, provide options for the persons to pay taxes in either of the countries. Tax rates in Europe and America are far higher than Pakistan's, so if you opt to pay taxes as per Pakistan Tax Laws, you may get a tax benefit.
The Concept of Filer and Non-Filer Taxpayer in Pakistan
The primary condition for becoming a filer, under Pakistan's Income Tax Ordinance 2001, is that the taxpayer’s name should appear in the “Active Taxpayers List”. Section 2(23A) of the Income Tax Ordinance 2001 reads:
“Filer” means a taxpayer whose name appears in the active taxpayers’ list issued by the Board from time to time or is holder of a taxpayer’s card.”
This means that only taxpayers whose names appear in the Active Taxpayers List are considered "filers."
The Active Taxpayers List (ATL) is prepared by the Federal Board of Revenue and uploaded on the official website of the Federal Board of Revenue. Anyone can download the ATL from the following link:
Formerly, the Active Taxpayers List was updated on the 15th of every month. However, considering the problems faced by taxpayers, the Active Taxpayers List is updated weekly. At 12.00 every Sunday the list is updated and uploaded the next morning on Monday.
All banks, government departments and other withholding agents download the said list on a weekly basis and treat taxpayers as ‘filers’ and ‘non-filers’ according to this list.
How to Know That You Are a Filer and Your Name is on the Active Taxpayers List (ATL)
You can check whether you are a filer or non-filer by:
a. Downloading the list from the FBR website
b. Typing ATL and after one space your CNIC No. (without dashes) and sending it to 9966. In a minute you will receive a message from 9966 that your name is that of an active taxpayer. For example write "ATL 3520211111111".
c. Visiting the official website of e.fbr.gov.pk and from "Search Taxpayers" tab selecting "Active Taxpayers(IT)". In the new window type your CNIC No. and the image and press the button "Submit". You will know your status.
How to Become an Active Taxpayer and Filer
If you want your name and NTN/CNIC to appear in the Active Taxpayer List, you have to submit your last income tax returns. Persons who have not submitted their returns for tax year 2014 have been dropped from the list. However, if they file their return, their name should appear on the Active Taxpayers List uploaded on the website of the Federal Board of Revenue on the appropriate morning.
If you file your return on Saturday, September 19, 2015 for tax year 2015 by using the online facility of FBR, your name will appear in the version of the Active Taxpayers List available on the FBR’s website on Monday, September 21, 2015. Those who file manual returns always find themselves in trouble. Submitting the return online is easier and more convenient.
This is the position that is available in the statute book. However, there are many cases where taxpayers who filed income tax returns manually for tax year 2014 well within the time limit, did not have their names appear on the Active Taxpayers list. They were not legally required to submit the return online. The Federal Board of Revenue should take necessary action to address this grievance of bona fide taxpayers.
Disadvantages of Being a Non-Active Taxpayer and Non-Filer
If your name appears in the active taxpayers list, you will be treated as a ‘filer’ and pay lower withholding taxes. Some specific advantages are given below:
- You will not be subjected to the withholding tax of 0.3% on all banking transactions (which will be 0.6% after 30.09.2015). This tax is different from the tax mentioned in No.5 below.
- You pay 50% less tax on the purchase of vehicles and immovable properties.
- You pay 50% less token tax.
- On dividends, filers are charged tax @ 10% and non-filers @ 15%.
- On cash withdrawals of more than Rs.50,000, the rate for filers is 0.3% and for non-filers 0.4%.
- On winning a prize or prize bonds you have to pay more tax if you are a non-filer and not an active taxpayer.
Taxpayers should file their returns well within the statutory time period so as to avoid any penal action, as there are heavy penalties for non-filing or late filing of return. It may be noted that in case of late filing the penalty is equal to 0.1% of the tax payable for each day of default subject to a maximum penalty of 50% of the tax payable, provided that if the penalty worked out as aforesaid is less than twenty thousand rupees, or no tax is payable for that tax year, such person shall pay a penalty of twenty thousand rupees. This means that the minimum penalty is Rs. 20,000.
File your Tax Return in time
Easy Steps to become income tax filer (Active Taxpayer)
In order to become a filer and included in the active taxpayers list (ATL) New Persons, who have no NTN are required to check whether they are NTN holder or not? It may not be surprising that you may not have ever applied for NTN but still the FBR system shows that you are a registered taxpayer as the FBR often obtain data from different organizations and allot NTN to the persons on their on. For this purpose please visit the following website and mention your CNIC No. to know the factual position:
2. If you don't have the NTN then visit: https://iris.fbr.gov.pk/infosys/public/txplogin.xhtml
and get yourself registered under Registration for Unregistered Person.
Fill in the simple form and after due process login to the iris system.
3. You will find "Registration Form" in Draft folder. Complete the form and then submit the same. You will get your NTN in an hour or so.
4. After getting the NTN you will have to submit your tax return for tax year 2017 to become a filer.
5. For persons already having NTN but no username password of IRIS system are required to obtain the same by clicking on the link:
6. After obtaining the username password you will be able to submit your tax return for 2017 and you will be filer on the next coming Monday. This means that if you have filed your return on 8th March 2018 (Thursday), you will be filer as per FBR data by 12th March 2018 (Monday). However, the Banks update their list on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. The FBR should expedite this system of declaring the taxpayers active on day to day basis to prevent inconvenience caused to their clients.
How to become a filer
Common Queries from Persons Wanting to Become Filers/Active Taxpayers
1. Can a government official having income less than Rs.400,0000 become a filer?
Answer: Yes, of course. A Government official whose income is less than the taxable limit can also become filer.
2. Can a salaried person who did not have an NTN number after the 2018 budget become a filer?
What would be the status of a salaried person who was paying tax from his salary but did not have an NTN number after budget 2018, when the threshold is increased to Rs.1,200,000. Now how he can become a filer?
In Budget 2018 the Government has increased the taxable limit from Rs.400,000 to Rs.1,200,000. This amendment in Income Tax Law is applicable on the income earned after 01.07.2018. This means, for tax year 2018 the limit for taxable income is Rs.400,000 and it will be Rs.1,200,000 at the time of filing of return for 2019. Whatever your income is, you can file a tax return. Even a person having no source of income in Pakistan can file tax return. Such house wives and expatriate Pakistanis file their return to get the benefits of a filer.
A person who is earning below the taxable limit income can file a return. For example if your return is Rs.360,000 you can file a return declaring income of Rs.360,000 without payment of any taxes.
3. What are the initial requirements for starting the process of filing your return?
Answer: Filing a tax return is a cumbersome job. You may wish to acquire services of a professional like us. A professional will need the following details/data to make you a filer:
- Scanned copy of your CNIC
- A cell No. of any Pakistani network. It is not necessary that the No. is in your name. It may be a No. of your family member of your friend (Not used before for getting NTN).
- Total salary earned during the period 01.07.2016 to 30.06.2017.
- Your bank statement/(s) for the period 01.07.2016 to 30.06.2017
- Certificates from your bank branches indicating the tax deductions they made during 01.07.2016 to 30.6.2017.
- Details of assets, owned by you as on 30.06.2017 e.g. value of shares, purchase cost of properties and vehicles etc.
4. How long does it take to become a filer?
Answer The Active Taxpayers List (ATL) is updated every Monday. So if you want to become a filer, file or get your return filed prior to 12.00 P.M. Sunday.