ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Information Commission (PIC) has directed the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to disclose information about total number of individuals/ companies and total amount declared under the amnesty scheme introduced under clause 86 of Second Schedule to the Income Tax Ordinance, 2001 vide SRO 1065(I)/2013.
In this connection, the PIC has issued an order to the FBR Chairman for compliance.
The order came after a Lahore-based tax lawyer Waheed Shahzad Butt lodged a complaint/ appeal against FBR Chairman, alleging that FBR is trying to hide crucial information.
As per information taxpayer citizen also approached Lahore High Court and Federal Tax Ombudsman and finally approached the “PIC” through Appeal No. 984-04/2021 and sought the following information: FBR field formations: LTU/ CRTO/ RTO; number of taxpayer availed Clause 86: Individuals, AOPs and companies and amount declared under clause 86 by the individuals, AOPs and the companies.
The PIC order stated that the, “appellant filed appeal stating that he had submitted information requests to Chairman, FBR, on March 05, 2018 and states introduction of any tax amnesty scheme for tax evaders is nothing but height of immorality fully sponsored by State.
The government instead of entertaining any such scheme should seriously consider introducing asset-seizure scheme to confiscate undeclared/ untaxed assets/ wealth created from black/ undisclosed/ untaxed money and make laws to bring back looted money from tax cheaters.
Through a letter dated May 20, 2021, the FBR submitted its response “applicant requested the department for information related to beneficiaries of Amnesty Scheme introduced through SRO 1065(I) 2013 dated 20-12-2013 whereby reportedly the department vide letter dated 28-05-2018 rejected the request of the applicant due to prohibition under section 216 of the Ordinance, 2021.
In the instant Appeal, the Appellant has not sought amount declared by identifiable individuals through SRO of 2013, which is also exempted from disclosure under different clauses of Section 7 and Section 16 of the Right of Access to Information Act, 2017. The Appellant has only sought information about the number of individuals and total amount declared through the amnesty schemes in different formations of FBR through amnesty scheme under the SRO of 2013. This commission holds that the disclosure of requested information about total number of individuals/ companies, total amount declared through different formation of FBR under SRO 2013 is not hit by any of the exemption clauses of the Right of Access to Information Act, 2017.
It needs to be understood that Section 11 of the Voluntary Declaration of Domestic Assets Ordinance, 2018 prohibits the disclosure of “particulars of any person making a declaration under this Ordinance or any information received in any declaration made under this Ordinance” which is not the case in the instant Appeal, the order said.
The appeal is allowed. The Public Information Officer, FBR is directed to share with the Appellant the requested information about total number of individuals/ companies and total amount declared through different formation of FBR under clause 86 of Second Schedule to the Income Tax Ordinance, 2001 issued vide notification SRO 1065(I)/2013: PIC ordered.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2022