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Pakistan Supreme Court Orders 50% Payment of Exceptional Super Tax on High-Earnings Persons; High Court Holds Super Tax Cannot Apply for 2022 — Orbitax Tax News & Alerts

The Supreme Court of Pakistan issued an order on 7 February 2023 requiring taxpayers to pay 50% of the new super tax for the tax year 2022. The new super tax was introduced as part of the Finance Act 2022, with progressive rates of 0% to 4%. However, for the tax year 2022, a higher rate of 10% was set for high-earning persons engaged partly or wholly in specified industries where income exceeds PKR 300 million, including the business of airlines, automobiles, beverages, cement, chemicals, cigarettes and tobacco, fertilizer, iron and steel, LNG terminal, oil marketing, oil refining, petroleum and gas exploration and production, pharmaceuticals, sugar, and textiles. In response, several appeals were made against the new super tax to the Lahore High Court, which issued an injunction staying the recovery proceeding and directed the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to allow different companies to file their returns excluding the super tax, subject to the deposit of post-dated checks (guarantees) for the difference. In its order, the Supreme Court set aside the High Court's injunction and directed high-earning persons to pay 50% of the super tax, reduced by the amount of any refund that has been determined by the tax authorities in favor of the taxpayers.

The Sindh High Court has also issued a related order regarding the levy of the new super tax for 2022. In its order issued on 13 January 2023, the Sindh High Court found that levying the super tax retrospectively for 2022 would be unconstitutional and ordered that the section introducing the new super tax is read to reflect that the levy shall be applicable from the tax year 2023, and that the higher rate for certain industries is discriminatory and, hence, unconstitutional. This reasoning has been repeated in several subsequent orders, including as recently as a 15 February 2023 order. However, the operation of the initial judgment is suspended for a period of sixty days. The FBR is reportedly planning to appeal the order of the Sindh High Court. Further developments will be published once available.