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ISLAMABAD: The delay in the release of Tax Directory 2018 till 18 September 2020, the last year in the tenure of the PML-N, has been attributed to belated approval by the Cabinet and inability of adviser to Prime Minister on Finance Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh to spare time for the ceremony at the FBR House earlier.

Sources told Business Recorder on Tuesday that the Tax Directory requires approval of the federal cabinet before its publication and release to the general public. The directory was ready by March 2020; however, it could not be made public as approval of the federal cabinet was required which was delayed due to COVID lockdown. Sources further stated that the Income Tax Ordinance 2001 and income tax rules do not specify any deadline for launch of the Tax Directory. It is the discretion of the government to issue the tax directory whenever it deems appropriate however the FBR is trying its level best to release the tax directory for tax year 2019 by March 2021.

Last year, during passage of Finance Bill 2019, Chairman Senate Standing Committee on Finance Senator Farooq H Naek suggested that the practice of the FBR for publication of the Tax Directory be discontinued. All committee members endorsed the viewpoint of Senator Naek and asked the NA to discontinue the said practice.

The issue came to light when former FBR Member Inland Revenue Policy Hamid Atiq stated that the FBR has overruled the secrecy laws to publish the tax directory.

Those parliamentarians who are not paying taxes should be highlighted, the chairman committee said. The senators argued that cases of kidnappings in the country increased due to publication of taxes paid by parliamentarians and other taxpayers.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020