Understanding Termination Benefits Taxation in Pakistan

Managing the Tax Bite on Termination Benefits in Pakistan

Termination benefits, including golden handshake payments, can be a significant financial windfall. However, the joy of receiving a lump sum can quickly turn into a headache when you realize the tax implications. The good news is, the Income Tax Ordinance, 2001 (ITO 2001) offers a solution to help you manage the tax burden on these benefits.

Understanding Termination Benefit Taxation:

  • Taxable Income: All termination benefits, including compensation for redundancy, severance pay, unpaid gratuity, and golden handshake payments, are considered part of your salary for tax purposes.
  • Progressive Tax Rates: Pakistan’s income tax system uses progressive tax rates. This means the higher your income, the higher the tax rate applied to that portion of your income. A large sum from termination benefits can push you into a higher tax bracket, leading to a significant tax liability.

Types of Termination Benefits:

  • Compensation for redundancy or loss of employment: This includes payments made to employees who are laid off due to restructuring, downsizing, or other reasons beyond their control.
  • Golden handshake payments: These are one-time lump sum payments offered to employees as an incentive for early retirement or voluntary resignation.
  • Notice pay: This is payment made to an employee in lieu of the required notice period for termination.
  • Severance pay: This is a fixed amount paid to an employee upon termination, usually based on their salary and length of service.
  • Unpaid gratuity: This is a payment calculated based on the employee’s last drawn salary and years of service, payable on termination or retirement.

Mitigating the Tax Burden: Average Tax Rate Option

The ITO 2001 provides some relief for taxpayers receiving termination benefits. You can opt for a special tax calculation method by informing the Commissioner of Income Tax within a specific timeframe (as per relevant rules). This method uses your average tax rate for the preceding three years.

Calculating the Average Tax Rate:

  • Total Tax Paid: Add up the income tax you paid in the previous three years.
  • Total Taxable Income: Combine your taxable income from the previous three years.
  • Average Tax Rate: Divide the total tax paid by the total taxable income and multiply by 100%.

Benefits of Average Tax Rate Option:

  • Spreads Tax Burden: The average tax rate option distributes the tax liability on your termination benefits over three years, making it more manageable.
  • Lower Tax Rate: If your income in the previous three years was lower than the year with the termination benefit, your average tax rate might be lower, resulting in less tax to pay.

Additional Considerations:

  • No Deductions: Remember, no deductions are allowed for termination benefits received at the time of leaving a job.
  • Negotiation Potential: Depending on your employment contract and company policies, you might be able to negotiate tax-free components within your termination package. Discuss this possibility with your employer and a tax advisor.


Receiving termination benefits can be financially advantageous. By understanding the tax implications and utilizing the average tax rate option provided by the ITO 2001, you can manage the tax burden effectively. Remember, seeking professional advice ensures you navigate the process smoothly and minimize your tax liability.

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