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Amnesty delay keeps prospective declarants on tenterhooks


May 22, 2019

KARACHI: Delay in implementation of the recently-announced tax amnesty scheme is keeping the people who wish to get clean chit for their concealed assets on tenterhooks with the government dragging feet on removing the red tape, sources said on Tuesday.

On May 14, the federal cabinet approved the assets declaration scheme for undeclared domestic and foreign assets. Consequently, the amnesty scheme was promulgated through an ordinance.

But, the scheme was not implemented even after one week due to non-availability of rules and procedures by the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP).

On Monday, the FBR issued draft of rules, inviting comments from stakeholders up to May 22 to finalise the amnesty scheme, which is to be expired till June-end.

“It is for sure that the amnesty scheme would not be implemented at least before May 23, 2019,” an official of the Large Taxpayers Unit (LTU) Karachi said.

The official said the form for the amnesty scheme is not available on the Inland Revenue Service (IRS) portal for making declaration. “Availability of form on the IRS system and its testing is very important, especially for payment in foreign currency.”

The official further said the SBP is also yet to issue procedures for the amnesty scheme to clarify remittance transfers.

The SBP said the rupee has lost more than five percent against the US dollar since March. The losses are consistently being added to tumbling rupee, improving margins on foreign inflows.

Last week, the newly-appointed FBR Chairman Shabbar Zaidi directed the officers of Inland Revenue to take all possible measures to make the amnesty a success.

The offices of Inland Revenue have already pressed the taxpayers to avail the tax amnesty scheme to avert action following its expiry. The delay in implementation of the scheme is frustrating the potential declarants. “We have sent around 4,000 e-mails to taxpayers for availing the amnesty scheme,” the LTU official said. The aspiring declerants are sending queries to the FBR to know about the updates, the official added.

Under the presidential ordinance, the last date for availing the amnesty scheme is June 30 and the date would not be extended further.

Sources said every passing day is creating unrest due to shrinking time limit. The sources said the amnesty scheme would not continue beyond June 30 due to International Monetary Fund’s loan program, which is likely to be implemented from July 1.

The declarants had also faced immense difficulties in paying duty and taxes through foreign currency due to settlement in New York in the last amnesty scheme 2018. The FBR collected around Rs122 billion on almost 70,000 declarations made for domestic and foreign assets under the amnesty scheme for the April-July period.