In a recent announcement, the federal government has unveiled a series of measures aimed at fostering growth and investment in the freelancing and information technology (IT) sectors. The government has decided to implement a reduction in tax rates for investments in the IT sector, provide tax breaks to freelancers, and establish a favorable environment for investment by normalizing duty-free equipment provisions.
During the budget presentation for the fiscal year 2023-24, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar highlighted the importance of the IT sector and its immense talent pool within the country. To support the growth of IT exports, the government plans to extend the current 0.25 per cent discounted income tax rate for the next three years.
Recognizing the significance of banks in facilitating investment in the IT sector, the finance minister proposed a reduced tax rate of 20 per cent for banks involved in lending to this sector. This reduction aims to alleviate the burden on banks, as the existing tax rate for investments stands at 39 per cent.
Additionally, the government has recommended providing Duty-Free Equipment privileges to incentivize investment in the IT sector. Moreover, the minister has suggested granting the industry the status of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), enabling individuals to avail themselves of special and exclusive discounted income tax rates applicable to this sector.
In a move to streamline processes for IT and IT-related services exporters, Minister Dar proposed the issuance of Automated Exemption Certificates to non-residents within 30 days. Furthermore, the government plans to reduce the Goods and Services Tax (GST) from 15 per cent to 5 per cent specifically for IT and ITeS services in the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT).
To support the freelancing community, Minister Dar recommended exempting individuals from the obligation of filing a sales tax return in order to benefit from the concessional rate of 0.25 per cent. Emphasizing the vital contribution of freelancers to the country’s foreign exchange earnings, the minister suggested that those whose IT and IT-enabled services exports were less than $24,000 in the previous fiscal year should be exempted from sales tax registration and allowed to file a simplified single-page income tax return.
These measures underscore the government’s commitment to fostering a conducive business environment and encouraging investment in the freelancing and IT sectors, thereby facilitating economic growth and job creation.