You can now read 5 articles in a month for free on Read as much as you want anywhere and anytime for just 99¢.

Most Pakistani lawmakers failed to file tax return

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Fewer than a third of Pakistan’s members of Parliament file annual tax returns, according to a report published Wednesday, lending new focus to longstanding complaints from foreign donors and ordinary Pakistanis about tax evasion at the highest levels of society.

The report, jointly published by two civil society organizations, found that just 126 of the country’s 446 federal lawmakers filed annual income tax returns in 2011. Among those who did not file a return was President Asif Ali Zardari.

Continue reading below

The report does not take into account the tax paid by politicians on their parliamentary salaries, which is automatically deducted by the government. Instead, it focuses on the lawmakers’ declarations of supplemental income from property, professional practices, and other sources of revenue.

Nevertheless, in a nation where many politicians enjoy lifestyles that far exceed their official salaries, the report raises fresh questions about the dedication of Pakistan’s top lawmakers to enforcing the tax laws they oversee.

‘‘Tax evasion has become a social norm in our country,’’ said Umar Cheema, an investigative journalist who compiled the report for the Center for Peace and Development Initiatives and the Center for Investigative Reporting in Pakistan. ‘‘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.’’

Of the country’s 180 million people, only 2 percent are ­registered to pay tax, and fewer than a quarter of those actually do so according to the report. Income tax evasion is particularly high among the wealthiest Pakistanis.

Loading comments...
Want each day's news headlines delivered fresh to your
inbox every morning? Just connect with us
in one of the following ways:
Please enter a valid email will never post anything without asking.
Privacy Policy
Subscriber Log In

You have reached the limit of 5 free articles in a month

Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.

  • High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
  • Convenient access across all of your devices
  • Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
  • Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
  • Less than 25¢ a week
Marketing image of
Marketing image of