Friday, July 3, 2020 | ePaper

Others are taking tax benefits meant for fish farms

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FISH farmers have alleged that despite having no such business, some people were showing income from fish farms due to lack of effective monitoring by the tax department. They also alleged that this group of people were paying a small amount of taxes showing that they earned the money from the so-called fish farms, which does not even exist in reality.
Currently, the fish farm owners enjoy a special rate of reduced tax under a Statutory Regulatory Order (SRO) of the National Board of Revenue (NBR). For availing the reduced tax rate, the tax-payers do not have to furnish any document such as licences or other papers with the tax returns as a proof of having a fish farm.
The government had known from the very start that it could lose a significant amount of revenues for awarding unconditional tax exemption limit to fish farmers as dishonest tax-payers may take the advantage of evading tax.  That the tax benefit finalised in the budget for the 2015 fiscal year would help black money holders to show a significant amount of income from fish farming, even sometimes without having any such earning from the sector, was known to tax officials and anti-graft campaigners .
But in spite of this they went ahead and allowed the legal loophole. As many as 28 lawmakers declared themselves as fish farmers in 2015 to take advantage of this loophole. Despite many ways to close this --- including ensuring an effective monitoring system. requested imposing some conditions against the tax benefit including having a trade licence, contract paper of ownership or lease of ponds, legal licences of fish farms and fish hatchery and certification from the association, the practice continues.

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