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Government Suggests Sales Tax on E-Commerce

The federal government has suggested in Islamabad to levy a sales tax on the selling of items via an online marketplace.

The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has recommended, according the Finance Bill 2021-22 (FY22), that the operator of an online marketplace shall be liable for sales tax regardless of whether the marketplace is controlled by the operator.

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An online marketplace consists of an electronic interface such as a marketplace, e-commerce platform, portal, or similar means that facilitate the sale of goods, including third-party sales, by controlling the terms and conditions of sale, authorising a charge to customers for payment for supply, and ordering or delivering goods.

Details indicate that the FBR’s proposal includes additional steps to make e-commerce marketplaces accountable for VAT/GST on sales made by online merchants, in addition to data sharing and improved cooperation between tax authorities and online marketplaces.

A research by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) indicates that two-thirds of all cross-border e-commerce sales occur on online marketplaces, highlighting the significance of these policies.

Tracking these online marketplaces to guarantee that VAT/GST is paid, by making them accountable and through data sharing, will allow tax authorities to concentrate their compliance efforts on the relatively limited number of marketplaces as opposed to the millions of small traders operating on them.

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