FBR blocks over 11,000 SIM cards of non-filers

Govt to enforce SIM card blockage for non-filers, spokesperson affirms

Our Correspondent May 23, 2024


The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has said that it has blocked over 11,000 SIM cards by May 22 under the Income Tax General Order (ITGO), Express News reported.

An FBR spokesperson stated the agency's commitment to promoting tax compliance and fostering a tax culture, saying that 11,252 SIMS have been blocked so far.

He said that the decision to block the SIM cards was communicated to mobile companies during a meeting with telecommunication firms.

The spokesperson said that the government has mandated the blocking of mobile phone SIM cards belonging to non-filers, which will be enforced under any circumstances.

Read more: Telcos to block SIMs in small batches

The FBR has also commenced the physical inspection of telecom companies' records, 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 on Wednesday.

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.

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.

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 emphasised 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.




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