The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) Chairman Nisar Muhammad Khan on Saturday said that FBR has issued notices to hundreds of people named by the Panama leaks for their offshore asset holdings.
The federal tax collector acted under Section 176 of Income Tax as PTI Chairman Imran Khan once again took to his container in Islamabad Saturday to blast the chairman FBR for his alleged inaction against those named in Panama papers.
Within minutes of the cricketer-turned politician’s FBR-bashing some TV channels reported that the Board had issued notices to some 350 people, implying that the move came under pressure of Khan’s speech.
Addressing an interactive session of businessmen here at a local hotel, FBR Chairman Khan, while rejecting talks of working under some political pressure as “stupid”, confirmed that his side had issued notices “yesterday”.
“Yesterday, we issued the notices under Section 176 of Income Tax after a lot of homework,” he told Business Recorder at the event organised by this newspaper, Aaj TV and Corporate Pakistan Group (CPG).
Sponsored by Martin Dow, the “Discussion” was attended among others by Business Recorder’s Deputy Chief Executive Arshad A Zuberi, Publisher of Business Recorderand CEO of Aaj TV Asif Aziz Zuberi, Shahab Zuberi of Aaj TV and leading businessmen such as Arif Habib, Dr Mirza Ikhtiyar Baig, Abdul Haseeb Khan, Abdul Qadir Memon, Abdul Sami Khan and Muhammad Rohail.
“The process was ongoing. We were analyzing media reports and our papers,” the FBR chief said adding “only a stupid person can think that such notices can be issued within 15 minutes [of PTI chief’s diatribe]”. Khan said a 15-day deadline had been set for the respondents to answer 7-8 questions FBR had raised about the offshore belongings.
Asked what action a possible non-compliance could draw, the tax collector said: “Whatever it is, that action will be fair and in line with the existing laws”.
Alluding to PTI chief’s allegations, Khan said the container-fame politician should “fear God” for trying to stain his 35-year credibility by telling “such a big lie” about him.
Earlier, responding to businessmen’s questions, the FBR chairman said: “We issued notices on the Panama Papers but did not publicize it. Hence we have to issue clarification today”.
Talking about FBR’s performance, he said through fiscal and operational measures the tax collector was able to broaden the country’s tax net as against last year’s 800,000 some 1050,000 potential taxpayers would be issued notices this year. “We would be issuing tax notices within 1-3 days”.
He said fiscal measures like imposing 0.4 percent WHT on banking transactions for filers and non-filers had proved effective. Also, Khan said FBR was extending its Regional Tax Office (RTO) system to far-located areas to reach out to access maximum number of potential taxpayers.
About direct and indirect taxes, he said in FY17 federal budget 70-75 percent taxes were direct in nature and that last four years had seen the volume of direct taxes rising from 37 to 42 percent. To a query, the FBR chief said the volume of refunds in FY13’s Rs1.946 trillion tax collection stood at Rs200 billion. This year the same amounted to over Rs1 trillion against Rs3.112 trillion collection.
“But the refunds which are payable and pending stand less than FY13’s,” he said. As of Aug 31, he said, FBR had paid Rs23 billion refunds on account of sales tax which by Oct 31 would reduce to three-month pending level.
He also dispelled the impression that the government to increase its revenues had let banks dried off their deposits by imposing 0.4 percent WHT, saying of the total Rs3.112 billion tax collection the disputed levy accounted for an insignificant Rs20 billion.
On the valuation of property rates, Khan told a questioner that FBR, having notified the consensus actual and transaction value of properties in major cities of the country, would keep reviewing the rates. The provincial governments also should revisit their property valuations to make them actual.
Lamenting that billions of rupees were stuck in litigations, the FBR chief said the Board would soon be activating Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) but urged the taxpayers to refrain from promoting the culture of litigation through bringing stay orders from courts in response to FBR notices.
Earlier, Business Recorder’s Arshad A. Zuberi told the audience that in past customs duties used to constitute over 60 percent of country’s tax collection. He said the country was still in a learning process whereby three tiers of the governments should know how taxes had to be divided among them. Dr Mirza Ikhtiyar Baig offered a vote of thanks as the chief guest was presented shields by the organisers.