ISLAMABAD - The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), in its drive to broaden the tax base of the country, has identified 6800 non-taxpayers in commercial plazas and shopping malls in three mega cities of Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad. Member (Inland Revenue - Operations) FBR Seema Shakil on Thursday said that FBR had issued notices to 6400 non-taxpayers in the first stage. As many as 2671 of them had filed their income tax returns and Rs1.3 billion tax had been recovered from them. Around 44,00 banks accounts had been attached and 78 properties and 46 vehicles would be auctioned, Member (Inland Revenue – Operations) said while addressing a press conference along with Dr Hamid Ateeq Sarwar, Member (Inland Revenue - Policy).

Seema Shakil informed that FBR has arrested 9 people involved in issuing fake invoices. Giving further details, she informed that the FBR recovered Rs3.8 billion by conducting raids in exercise of powers available under the Income Tax Ordinance and Sales Tax Act. As a result of these raids, the field formations took action in 424 cases where revenues of Rs8.3 billion were involved. Of these, the FBR recovered Rs3.8 billion. However, the FBR has now halted the raids on the request of various chambers and businessmen. She said that FBR would issues notices to them. “In cases where the businessmen did not respond to the notices, the FBR would have no option but to conduct raids”, she added. Member (Inland Revenue – Operations) informed that FBR would issue refunds to 50,000 people where claims of tax refunds are below Rs50,000, which would cost Rs175 million to FBR. 

Dr Hamid Ateeq Sarwar said that FBR had issued a notice to former president of Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari in a case where payment for importing bullet proof vehicles was made allegedly from a fake bank account. He further said Zardari could submit his reply through his lawyer. He said that around 1.76 million tax returns had been filed so far during this year as against 1.31 million in the same period of the previous year.

He said that action under Benami Transactions Prohibition Act 2017 would be taken from April 2019. The Act would be applicable from February 2017 when the government had passed it. The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) would send the available details of the Benami accounts to the FBR within next two days. The cases of Benami accounts might be in thousands. However, initially, the FBR would probe those cases where Rs10 million transaction taken place in month and the suspicious transactions. Talking about the tax amnesty scheme, Sarwar said that businessmen in Karachi in March had requested Prime Minister Imran Khan to give tax amnesty scheme. Prime Minister had assured them to consider the proposal. However, the FBR would act on it once the government makes the decision about the scheme.  

He also briefed on the tax collection. The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has faced massive shortfall of Rs236 billion in tax collection during eight months (July to February) period of the ongoing fiscal year 2018-19. The FBR had collected Rs2330 billion during eight months (July to February) of the ongoing financial year as against the target of Rs 2,566 billion.