- Board-in-Council of FBR has endorsed the legal stance of its members
ISLAMABAD: The Board-in-Council of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has endorsed the legal stance of its members for not sharing the information of declarants, who availed the tax amnesty scheme, to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).
Sources told Business Recorder that the issue was discussed during the last meeting of the Board-in-Council of the FBR. The FBR supported the legal viewpoint of its members for not sharing the data of the declarants who availed the tax amnesty scheme. The stance taken by the FBR members was later confirmed by the Law Division. The FBR’s members have done the right thing within the legal framework of the Voluntary Declaration of Domestic Assets Act 2018 or Assets Declaration Ordinance 2019.
According to the sources, the meeting also discussed whether the FBR’s members can legally challenge the Bureau’s notices for the provision of information in the courts.
The issue mainly related to the issuance of the notices of the NAB Peshawar to the FBR Members on provision of information of some declarants under the tax amnesty scheme.
The FBR has also approached the federal government including Prime Minister/ Finance Minister to bar the Bureau from sharing legally-protected information of foreign assets of some taxpayers, who availed tax amnesty scheme of 2019.
The bureau had asked the senior FBR officials to provide legally protected information that a taxpayer had shared with the FBR under the 2019 offshore assets tax amnesty scheme.
The Bureau wants the information of a political family of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, who disclosed any domestic or foreign assets under the provisions (of) Voluntary Declaration of Domestic Assets Act 2018 or Assets Declaration Ordinance 2019.
The FBR informed the NAB that the law did not allow sharing the tax and asset information of those who availed the amnesty schemes. The Law Division also backed the FBR’s position.
Sources added that the legal opinion given by the Law Division, suggests that under the Tax Amnesty Schemes of 2018 and 2019 the FBR cannot disclose details of those who will avail the amnesty scheme.
A tax expert said that a plain reading of Section 11 of the Voluntary Declaration of Domestic Assets Ordinance 2018 and Section 14 of the Assets Declaration Ordinance 2019 makes it evident that the said confidentiality provisions are applicable on the NAO, 1999 and NAB has no inherent power to proceed in this regard.
The law says that no tax amnesty declaration can be used as evidence against the declarant. It also says that the amnesty law will override any other law for the time being in force.
The opinion of the Ministry of Law and Justice had been obtained whether the exclusive jurisdiction granted to NAB vide Section 27 of NAO 1999 overrides the confidentiality provisions of Section 11 of the Voluntary Declaration of Domestic Assets Ordinance, 2018 and Section 14 of the Assets Declaration Ordinance, 2019.
The Law Division informed the FBR that the tax amnesty details could not be shared with NAB, as the amnesty law, which came later, would take precedent over the National Accountability Ordinance of 1999, tax expert added.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2022