Fishing Expedition

Apr.07 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s main tax authority plans to net in 40,000 new taxpayers in 2006, its newly appointed head said. Sri Lanka has few taxpayers and attempts to widen the base have met with limited success over the last decade.

“For a 19.2 million population a 322,000 tax payers that not enough,” says Commissioner General of Inland Revenue A A Wijepala.

“I have decided to open up 40,000 income tax files within this year and at least another 100,000 files within three years. Then there should be at least 500,000 income tax files.”

There are 137,000 income tax payers and a further 195,000 pay-as-you-earn (PAYE) payers from whose salaries advance deductions are made.

Wijepala is hoping to target doctors, lawyers, tuition masters and other professionals.

All these are private sector employees, while Sri Lanka’s public sector employees are exempt from tax.

Meanwhile, tax holidays are regularly doled out as investment incentives.

Wijepala is also planning to investigate people who regularly visit countries like China, Indonesia Thailand and Singapore more than twice a year.

The depa