Pakistan IT sector freelancers hail tax exemption

ISLAMABAD: Freelancers in the information technology (IT) sector have welcomed the announcement of tax exemption by the Government of Pakistan which will boost their confidence to work in a more efficient way and contribute positively to the economy, WealthPK reported.

Prime Minister Imran Khan has announced zero-tax rate for freelancers in the IT sector at the launch of the National e-Tijarat Portal.

The prime minster also announced various other incentives to facilitate IT and information technology enabled services (ITES) sector, freelancers and startups.
Muhammad Imran, an IT expert and digital marketer, who works as virtual assistant with an international company in Pakistan, said while talking to WealthPK that zero tax policy for freelancers is a big decision to boost the sector. He said it will be a major source to add a huge amount in foreign reserves.

He added that freelancing industry works effortlessly, conveniently and with low resources. He said a freelancer just needs a laptop and internet provision which is not so much costly, while other industries such as textile demands a huge amount of logistic and labor work. Imran said the government should fix a swift and appropriate process of documentation for registration of freelancers.
Another senior freelancing trainer Hisham Sarwar told WealthPK that previously the 1 or 2 percent tax on IT sector broke the confidence of new freelancers. He said freelancers earning in thousands or in millions paid the tax with same ratio.
Hisham said that zero-tax policy is a great decision by the Government of Pakistan. He said the new policy will help collect the data of freelancers in Pakistan.

Tax exemption benefit, which was the biggest demand of IT sector, and other fiscal and non-fiscal incentives for the industry were proposed by the Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication.

Spokesman for the Ministry of Information Technology Ali Kazim told WealthPK that Minister for IT Syed Aminul Haque also congratulated the IT sector on tax exemption by the prime minister. He said aggressive growth targets and timely interventions by the federal government have set all the stakeholders on right pace to meet the desired business potential and compete in the international market.

The approval regarding tax exemption was made in a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday, 22nd February. Officials of the Ministry of IT & Telecommunication, Pakistan Software Export Board, State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), Federal Board of Revenue (SBP), Special Technology Zone Authority and Ignite National Technology Fund were also present in the meeting.

The issue of IT companies regarding easy inflow/outflow of foreign currency has also been addressed as specialized foreign currency accounts for IT/ITES companies and freelancers will be introduced to meet their operational needs. The government will allow IT/ITES companies and freelancers to retain 100% amount of remittances received through proper banking channels in foreign currency accounts without any compulsion to convert them into Pakistani rupees.

Furthermore, it was decided that there will be no restriction on outward remittances from foreign currency account for Pakistan Software Export Board (PSEB) registered IT companies and freelancers.

The prime minister has also directed the SBP to introduce financing streams for IT/ITES sector and freelancers keeping in view operational architecture and industry needs for these sectors.