FBR checks telco compliance on SIMs blocking

Inland Revenue commissioner orders physical inspection of record

Irshad Ansari May 22, 2024


The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) commenced the physical inspection of telecom companies' records on Wednesday, focusing on those that failed to submit compliance reports regarding the blocking of SIM cards for individuals not filing their tax returns.

The FBR's Commissioner for Inland Revenue, Zone IV, issued an order for the inspection under Section 175 of the Income Tax Ordinance. Acting on this order, an FBR team inspected the office of a telecom company located in the Blue Area of Islamabad.

During the inspection, company officials provided a compliance report detailing the blocking of SIM cards in accordance with the FBR's Income Tax General Order. The company confirmed to the inspection team that they had identified non-filers and sent them notifications regarding their blocked SIM cards.

Read more: Non-filers feel FBR heat

Officials stated that the Inland Revenue Commissioner's order required the principal officers of three telecom companies to block the SIM cards of non-filers and submit a compliance report by May 21, following the FBR's directive issued on April 29.

In separate notices to the telecom companies, it was indicated that inspections would be carried out by a team comprising authorized officers from Inland Revenue and technical experts from Pakistan Revenue Automation Limited (PRAL).

The principal officers were instructed to cooperate fully with the FBR inspection team and provide all necessary facilities. The order further warned that failure to comply would result in appropriate actions, including the imposition of fines.

Also read: FBR orders blocking SIM cards of over half-a-million non-filers

According to sources, a telecom company obtained a stay order from a court regarding the blocking of SIM cards, and no action has been taken against the company so far.

During a hearing for vacating the stay order in the Islamabad High Court (IHC), Chief Justice Aamer Farooq indicated that the matter should be resolved promptly. He emphasized that it would be preferable to decide on the main petition concerning the blocking of SIM cards.

Chief Justice Farooq clarified that the stay order was not intended to block the SIM cards but to protect the petitioners. He also noted that the government's directive to block the SIM cards of non-filers remains in effect.

The court suggested the next hearing of the matter in June and asked both the parties to agree to a date and inform the court. Later, the hearing was adjourned.


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