Punjab Government has decided to impose a 19.5% tax on mobile data usage across the province, despite it had clearly promised everyone that a earlier decision of taxes on internet is withdrawn. If this report from “The News” is to be believed then a notification is awaited today that will impose 19.5% tax for mobile data usage in the province.
One C level executive of a cellular company, who spoke directly with a member of Pakistan Revenue Authority, confirmed ProPakistani that PRA has taken a U-Turn and that it is now planning to tax mobile data usage. However, DSL users might be exempted from the taxes.
It maybe recalled that Punjab Government had imposed 19.5% tax on internet services through an SRO on May 28th, 2015. Later on after protest from various stakeholders, Dr Ayesha Ghaus, Finance Minister Punjab, during her budget speech on June 13th, 2015 announced the reversal of Internet taxes and said that notification will be taken back shortly.
Dr. Ayesha, in her speech, had said that decision for reversal of internet taxes came after provincial cabinet’s approval.
Despite promises from Finance Minister, notification for reversal of taxes was never issued and PRA kept issuing verbal assurances even when cellular companies asked it for clarification on the issue.
Now, after almost two months of this whole ambiguous situation, Punjab government is looking to tax mobile data usage again. To save its face, PRA plans to exempt DSL users from internet tax which are less than 2 percent in the whole province.
This is clearly a U-Turn that Punjab government has taken from its earlier stance and there’s nothing much one can do other than bearing the liars who are imposing taxes after taxes.
Just to mention, there is another 14% withholding tax imposed by the federal government, which will be collected separately by the operators, in addition to 19.5% GST imposed by the provinces.
In total, there is around 33.5 percent tax that internet users will have to pay ultimately, for a commodity that is considered a basic right in almost every country of the world.