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June 18, 2019

‘Govt not to extend deadline of assets declaration scheme’

Business

June 18, 2019

KARACHI: The government will not extend the deadline of its recently-launched assets declaration scheme as the country is about to enter a $6 billion IMF loan arrangement, which restricts such tax amnesty programs, a senior official said on Monday.

“Since Pakistan is entering into (International Monetary) Fund program from July 1, 2019 it will not be possible for the authorities to extend the date for the scheme

beyond June 30, 2019,” Seema Shakil, Member Inland Revenue (Operations) of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) said. “The FBR bargained for the time limit for this particular assets declaration scheme in a very difficult scenario.”

Shakil, addressing a seminar on Assets Declaration Ordinance 2019, said people who want to avail the scheme should file their declarations by June 30, and they could pay duty and taxes with default surcharge after due date. The Karachi Tax Bar Association (KTBA) hosted the event.

Member Inland Revenue said the present scheme is for assets declaration. “It is not a tax amnesty scheme,” she added. “The present scheme has significance when compared with the previous schemes.”

Shakil said the scheme was introduced within a short span of eight or nine months. The FBR obtained bulk of the information pertaining to offshore investments. Rules for Benami laws were notified in February this year.

“Therefore, it is unfair to take harsh action against people without giving them an opportunity,” she added. The tax official encouraged people to avail the scheme by June 30 to avoid any harsh action by the tax authorities.

Shakil said the FBR is resolving an issue of online system’s congestion on returns filing deadline. In the past, it was witnessed that the system gets clogged and people remained unable to file their returns on time.

The tax official said the FBR’s IT wing would allow entries in offline mode to save bandwidth usage and smooth functioning of the website.

The IT wing is working to upgrade the present online system, which has become outdated. KTBA President Rehan Siddiqui said the FBR should address trust deficit factor to encourage people to avail such schemes. “Trust level should be visible in the law making.”

KTBA’s official Zeeshan Merchant said the assets declaration scheme mainly has four targets: new declarants; individuals who receive notices from the FBR; courts’ cases; and people who don’t report sales. Merchant said the time limit for the scheme is very short and tax practitioners as ‘sales agents’ for the FBR would not be able to complete the task within the given time frame.

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