ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Wednesday directed the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) strengthen its offshore taxation commissionerates established in the six big cities of the country to swiftly conclude the cases of undeclared assets of the Pakistani citizens abroad.
Chairing a meeting on the FBR reforms, the prime minister also directed for speeding up the process for formulating rules under the relevant laws about these benami properties and recovery of the taxes from big defaulters.
Khan lamented that the previous governments did not take any efforts to remove discrepancies in the tax system and expanding the tax base. “It is tantamount to criminal negligence in a country, where 30% of the government expenditure was incurred on interest payment,” he said.
He said that general public had lost trust in the tax system because the revenues generated through the taxes were spent on the luxurious life-style of the rulers. He also mentioned harassment of the people, particularly the business community by the tax authorities in the past besides a complicated taxation process and corruption. “We need to restore the trust of the people,” Khan said.
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The meeting, attended by Finance Minister Asad Umar, State Minister for Revenue Hammad Azhar, FBR Chairman Jahanzeb Khan and senior officials, was briefed about the discovery of undeclared assets of Pakistani citizens abroad and the steps being taken to recover taxes on these properties.
The FBR chairman informed the prime minister that the offshore taxation commissionerates had been established in Lahore, Karachi, Islamabad, Quetta, Peshawar and Multan for quick scrutiny of the cases of foreign assets of the Pakistani citizens.
He said that information was being gathered through difference institutions, including agreements with foreign countries. “After a detailed review of the data, hundreds of people have been issued notices as per law,” he added.
The prime minister was briefed that the tax on the assets and properties in foreign countries would be levied on those Pakistanis, who permanently resided in the country and not on those living in other countries.
He was also briefed about the non-filers and efforts to bring them in the tax net, besides efforts for reorganisation of the FBR on modern lines, shortage of staff, elimination of corruption, increasing capacity of the tax collectors and other related matters.
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Issues such as modernising the taxation system and simplification of the collection, besides introducing a comprehensive performance management system based on the feedback from the taxpayers were also discussed
The FBR chief said that the restructuring of the FBR would begin in a few weeks and a comprehensive plan had been chalked out for that purpose. “The restructuring aims at change in FBR culture, where taxpayers will be facilitated instead of being harassed,” he said.
For the convenience of the general public, the FBR chairman said, a new website was being launched and a facilitating desk was being created. In order to promote transparency, the internal audit department was being separated from the FBR, he added.
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