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Business & Finance

FBR starts process of blocking mobile SIMs of non-filers

  • First batch comprising 5,000 non-filers has been communicated to telecom operators for disabling their mobile phone SIMs, board says
Published May 10, 2024 Updated May 11, 2024

In an important development, telecom operators in Pakistan have apparently agreed to initiate a manual process of disabling the mobile SIMs of non-filers in small batches, blocking 5,000 tax evaders in the first phase, as per a post on X by the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) on Friday.

The development comes a day after the GSM Association (GSMA), an international organisation that represents the interests of mobile network operators worldwide, expressed concern over the Income Tax General Order (ITGO) issued by the FBR on April 30, 2024 over blocking mobile sims of non-filers.

“FBR has held a series of significant meetings with Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) and telecom operators across Pakistan to ensure effective implementation of Income Tax General Order No. 1, issued under Section 114B of the Income Tax Ordinance 2001.

SIMs of non-filers: Cellular cos/telecom operators apprise ministry about their concern

“As a result, telecom operators have agreed to initiate the manual blocking process in small batches till their systems are fully equipped to automate it,” the FBR said in its post on X, formerly Twitter.

According to the post, the first batch comprising 5,000 non-filers has been communicated to the telecom operators for disabling their mobile phone SIMs.

“Subsequent batches will be sent on a daily basis,” it read. “Telecom operators have also commenced sending messages to non-filers regarding blocking of SIMs for intimation purpose. This collaboration underscores the resolve to uphold tax regulations & ensure compliance among taxpayers.”

“FBR appreciates the cooperation of all stakeholders involved in these discussions and looks forward to continued collaboration to strengthen tax compliance in Pakistan,” the post added.

Last month, the FBR ordered the PTA and telecom operators to block 506,671 SIM cards belonging to non-filers.

An Income Tax General Order was issued to disable the SIM cards of persons “who are not appearing on the active taxpayer list but are required to file the Income Tax Return for Tax Year 2023 under the provisions of the Income Tax Ordinance, 2001 “.

Tax evaders’ SIM cards “will remain blocked until restored by the FBR or the Inland Revenue commissioner having jurisdiction over them,” the FBR had said then.

Earlier this month, the FBR decided to call all telecom operators at the FBR Headquarters to block SIMs of non-filers by May 15, 2024.

Sources had told Business Recorder that the PTA’s refusal had no relevance as it was a regulatory authority and the SIMs would be blocked by the cellular companies.

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