The FBR Eyes Online Retailers: Mandatory Sales Tax Deposits Proposed

The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) in Pakistan is contemplating a potential game-changer for the e-commerce sector: mandatory sales tax deposits by online retailers. This proposal, under consideration for the upcoming Budget 2024-25, aims to tighten tax collection within the rapidly growing online marketplace.

Targeting Online Retail Platforms:

The FBR is proposing an amendment to sub-section (3) of section 3 of the Sales Tax Act, 1990. This amendment would require online retailers, even those operating on a drop-shipping model (where they don’t physically own the goods), to collect and deposit sales tax on behalf of the government. This specifically targets platforms like, making them responsible for collecting sales tax from their customers and ensuring its timely deposit into the national treasury.

Boosting Transparency and Compliance:

An FBR source sheds light on the rationale behind this proposal: “By amending the Sales Tax Act, we aim to bring more transparency and compliance into the e-commerce sector. This will ensure that the sales tax collected by online retailers is properly accounted for and deposited, reducing revenue leakage and enhancing government funds.”

Addressing Regulatory Gaps:

The proposed amendment would involve adding a specific provision to the Sales Tax Act, clearly outlining the responsibilities of online retailers regarding sales tax collection and deposition. This initiative reflects the FBR’s commitment to streamlining tax collection processes and formally integrating the e-commerce sector into the national tax system.

A Growing Sector Needs Clear Rules:

The phenomenal growth of online retail platforms in Pakistan, fueled by increasing internet access and evolving consumer behavior, has outpaced the development of a comprehensive regulatory framework. This has resulted in potential loopholes in tax collection, which the FBR aims to address. The proposed amendment is seen as a crucial step towards ensuring a level playing field for all retailers, both online and offline.

Impact on Online Businesses:

If implemented, this new regulation would necessitate adjustments by online platforms like to comply with the stricter tax collection requirements. This is likely to improve tax compliance among online retailers and contribute significantly to the government’s tax revenue.

Broader Efforts for a Stronger Economy:

The FBR’s focus on e-commerce tax collection aligns with its broader strategy of expanding the tax base and strengthening tax administration. By bringing online sales under stricter tax regulations, the FBR aims to enhance revenue generation and contribute to Pakistan’s economic stability.

The Road Ahead:

While still under consideration, the final inclusion of this proposal in the budget will depend on further discussions and approvals within the government. However, its potential implementation would mark a significant shift in how online retail businesses are taxed in Pakistan.

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