Taxation

Tax Amnesty Scheme: FBR refuses to provide details of taxpayers

The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) under the umbrella of section 216 of the Income Tax Ordinance, 2001 has refused to provide detail of taxpayers who availed Tax Amnesty Scheme earlier notified by the Nawaz Sharif Government vide SRO No 1065(I)/2013 which is finally declared illegal by the Lahore High Court in 2018.

It is reliably learnt that FBR has issued a refusal letter to the requester Advocate Waheed Shahzad Butt and states that Article 19A of the Constitution of Pakistan provides access to information to a citizen subject to restrictions imposed by specific laws. Required information sought by you cannot be provided being confidential and protected under Section 216 of the Ordinance, 2001.

Sources told this correspondent that request was moved by a taxpayer Waheed Shahzad Butt who is also a petitioner before the LHC against the Amnesty Scheme introduced by the former Prime Minister vide SRO No. 1065(I)/2013 dated 20.12.2013. Said request has been refused by the FBR in writing.

Requester Waheed Shahzad Butt states if one looks at the needy economy of Pakistan, culture of corruption, budget deficit, per capita income, begging for financial assistance by all governments and ever increasing gap between rich and the poor, there is hardly any justification to allow amnesty to certain class of taxpayers. The government instead of entertaining any such scheme should seriously consider introducing ‘Asset-Seizure Scheme’ to confiscate undeclared /untaxed assets created from untaxed money and make laws to bring back looted money from tax cheaters.

Article 19A of the Constitution enables citizens of Pakistan to ask for publicly-held information as a matter of constitutional right. It enables citizens to have access to public records. Its purpose is to ensure transparency and promote good governance by making government more accountable and open. Access to information is inevitable for a constitutional democracy. The matter of amnesty availed by some blue eyed taxpayers by using PM tax incentive package is quite sensitive in nature where multi billions of National Exchequers in shape of public money (taxes) are on stake: Waheed added.

The FBR letter states “I am directed to refer to your letter No. RTI-AMNESTY-SC-FBR-01 dated 05.03.2018 on the subject and to state that Article 19A of the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 1973 provides access to information to a citizen subject to restrictions imposed by specific laws. In this respect, Section 216 of the Income Tax Ordinance, 2001 places restriction on disclosure of information by a public servant. In view of the above, the required information sought by you cannot be provided being confidential and protected under Section 216 of the Income Tax Ordinance, 2001

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