The National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) on Friday took the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to task for holding the authority responsible for failure of the tax net broadening drive.
NADRA rebuffed the FBR’s claim that due to NADRA’s mistake out of over 30,000 notices sent to potential taxpayers, about two-thirds could not be delivered due to fake addresses. FBR Member Facilitation and Taxpayers Education Riffat Shaheen Qazi gave the statement on Thursday.
“In the backdrop of upcoming IMF visit, this is a strategy aimed at passing the buck to an institution of international repute,” said a top NADRA official who spoke on condition of anonymity.
He said the FBR embarrassed itself by claiming that NADRA’s data about tax evaders was wrong and hence they could not collect taxes from them. NADRA Chairman Tariq Malik met with FBR Chairman Tariq Bajwa on Friday and sought data of 30,500 tax evaders as well as clarification.
After the meeting, the FBR clarified that out of 30,533 notices issued to potential taxpayers, only 9,365 notices had not been delivered by the courier. The FBR admitted that it was in the dark about the status of the remaining about 10,000 notices as the delivery report was in transit.
The FBR stated that of the 9,365 undelivered notices, 2,809 returned due to incomplete address, 3,000 addresses were outside the service area of the courier and the remaining had incorrect addresses. Furthermore, 18% of them were said to have shifted to another place or their homes were closed and a further 5% refused to receive the notice.
The NADRA official said the FBR never contacted the authority before sending notices to the tax dodgers. The FBR used its own data for issuing the notices, and used NADRA’s online service provided to banks known as Verisys (CNIC verification service). It is still unclear whether the FBR sent notices to present, temporary or permanent addresses.
The official expressed his surprise over the fact that the FBR did not have any report of about 10,000 notices as the courier has not yet given their status.
After creating a mess, “the FBR has now approached NADRA for assistance,” the official said. NADRA seeks details of undelivered notices as there are multiple ways to find out the person of interest.
One is through family tree. In NADRA database, more than 93% of citizens have same current and permanent addresses on the CNIC. On the basis of real identities, verification of electoral rolls was carried out by the Election Commission of Pakistan for preparing transparent electoral rolls.
Besides, the same real identities are being used in the processing of passport, issuance of cellular SIMs, opening of bank accounts and delivery of bank statements at postal addresses given in the CNICs.
However, in a bid to avoid a situation like this, NADRA has been asking the FBR to sign a memorandum of understanding for sharing data for the last four months. If NADRA’s data of real identities was used, the situation would have been quite different, he added.
In this regard, NADRA is still waiting for data from the FBR. NADRA is seeking payments in return for sharing the data, a demand the FBR is not ready to accept.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 26th, 2013.
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