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ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Business Council (PBC) has expressed serious disappointment over the Federal Board of Revenue’s decision to restore the powers of the Chief Commissioners of Inland Revenue to attach bank accounts.

On the other hand, the Overseas Investors Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OICCI) has appreciated the FBR for guiding the commissioners to exercise utmost care and to take all necessary precautions to ensure that taxpayers are given appropriate time to respond to notices before initiating action for attachment of bank accounts.

In this connection, the PBC has written a letter to Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin, here on Wednesday on the reversal of fiscal measures promoting the government’s “Make-in-Pakistan Initiative”.

According to the PBA, “the Council would like to once again place on record its appreciation of the various measures introduced by the current government, under your leadership and with the active support of the FBR to promote the PM’s Make-in-Pakistan vision.”

One of the earliest actions to encourage a culture of facilitating taxpayers was the announcement in 2019 by the FBR to curtail the powers of the FBR officials to attach bank accounts of taxpayers.

Bank accounts: LCCI opposes FBR decision

The PBC is thus, disappointed by the FBR’s decision in its letter of October 11, 2021 to restore the powers of the Chief Commissioners of Inland Revenue to attach bank accounts under section 140 of the Income Tax Ordinance 2001 and section 48 of the Sales Tax Act, 1990.

The PBC is of the view that this letter should be withdrawn with immediate effect as in the past these powers have been used by field formations to harass and intimidate existing taxpayers.

The PBC is one of the strongest proponents of documentation of the economy as well as of widening of the taxpayer base.

It, therefore, recommends that the ambit of section 140 of the ITO 2001 and section 48 of the STA 1990 be applicable only to those who donot appear on the FBR’s Active Taxpayer List.

The PBC has requested that the letter issued by the FBR on October 11th be withdrawn with immediate effect, the PBC added.

The OICCI, in its tweets, on Wednesday, stated the OICCI requested the finance minister on October 12 to review FBR circular of 11th October, reinstating powers of Commissioner in freezing bank accounts of taxpayers, without obtaining the FBR chairman’s approval.

The FBR has now issued revised circular/instructions diluting harshness of earlier circular.

The OICCI appreciates the FBR for guiding the Commissioners to exercise utmost care and to take all necessary precautions to ensure that taxpayers are given appropriate time to respond to notices before initiating action for attachment of bank accounts.

However, to ensure the spirit of the guidelines is strictly followed recovery proceedings should not be initiated till the matter is decided at Tribunal stage for more transparency, increase trust in the system and make first level of appeal more effective, the OICCI added.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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