Indirect Tax Collection in Pakistan: Challenges and Solutions

Taxes are a crucial source of revenue for governments around the world, and Pakistan is no exception. While direct taxes are collected from individuals and entities based on their income, wealth, or property, indirect taxes are levied on goods and services. In this blog post, we will discuss the indirect tax collection system in Pakistan, its challenges, and measures taken to improve it.

What are Indirect Taxes?

Indirect taxes are taxes that are imposed on goods and services, rather than individuals or entities. In Pakistan, the indirect tax system comprises several taxes, including sales tax, value-added tax (VAT), federal excise duty (FED), customs duty, and withholding tax.

Sales Tax

Sales tax is a tax imposed on the sale of goods and services. In Pakistan, the federal government levies sales tax, which is currently set at a standard rate of 17%. However, certain items, such as basic food items, healthcare, and education services, are exempt from sales tax.

Value-Added Tax (VAT)

Value-added tax (VAT) is a tax imposed on the value added to a product at each stage of production or distribution. In Pakistan, VAT is collected under the name of the Sales Tax Act, and the tax is applied at a standard rate of 17%. However, the VAT system is not implemented uniformly across the country, and there are several variations in the tax rates and procedures.

Federal Excise Duty (FED)

Federal excise duty (FED) is a tax imposed on specific goods and services, including cigarettes, beverages, and luxury items. In Pakistan, the FED is collected by the federal government, and the tax rates vary depending on the item. For example, the FED on cigarettes is Rs. 5,200 per 1,000 cigarettes, while the FED on aerated waters is 11%.

Customs Duty

Customs duty is a tax imposed on goods imported into Pakistan. The customs duty rates vary depending on the type of goods, their country of origin, and the trade agreements between Pakistan and other countries.

Withholding Tax

Withholding tax is a tax collected at the source of income, such as salaries, rent, and dividends. The withholding tax system in Pakistan is relatively complex, with several rates and exemptions based on the type of income and the taxpayer.

Challenges in Indirect Tax Collection in Pakistan

The indirect tax system in Pakistan faces several challenges, similar to the direct tax system. One of the most significant challenges is the weak tax administration system, which is plagued by corruption, political interference, and lack of resources. The tax authorities lack the necessary infrastructure and training to effectively enforce tax laws, resulting in a high level of tax evasion.

Another challenge is the complexity and variation in tax rates and procedures across different regions and sectors. This leads to confusion and creates opportunities for tax evasion and avoidance.

Improvements in Indirect Tax Collection in Pakistan

To address the challenges facing the indirect tax collection system in Pakistan, the government has taken several measures to improve tax collection. One of the most significant measures is the introduction of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), which is responsible for tax administration and collection.

The FBR has implemented several reforms to improve tax collection, including the automation of tax procedures, the establishment of tax offices across the country, and the simplification of tax laws. The FBR has also increased its focus on tax education and awareness campaigns to encourage taxpayers to pay their taxes.


Indirect taxes are an essential source of revenue for the Pakistani government. The government faces several challenges in collecting indirect taxes, including a lack of resources, corruption, and political interference. However, with the implementation of various measures, such as the introduction of a computerized tax system and awareness campaigns, the government is making progress in improving the indirect tax collection system. It is crucial for taxpayers to understand the importance of paying indirect taxes and for the government to continue implementing reforms to address the challenges and ensure a better future for the country.

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