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June 23, 2019

Availing tax amnesty scheme: Private banks start persuading their account holders


June 23, 2019

ISLAMABAD: The private banks have started politely persuading their account holders to avail of the official tax amnesty scheme if they have anything undeclared. 

In this connection, these institutions are sending letters to mostly those account holders, who have deposits of Rs500,000 or more. 

“You may be aware of the fact that national and international compliance requirements are increasingly focusing on the monetary transactions carried out through banking and other format and informal channels,” said the letter of a private bank, received by an account holder, a copy of which is available with The News.

Such requirements, it said, include income and assets declarations with the government as well as compliance with standards related to anti-money laundering requirements. The letter also referred to the benami law, which provides for prohibition of holding property in benami, restricts right to recover or transfer property held benami and spells out mechanism and procedure of confiscation of property held benami and matters incidental or connected to it. “Benami Transactions Prohibition Act 2017 that has become operational since February 2019 has further necessitated a more watchful regulatory environment,” the letter said.

It further said that in order to regularize our otherwise undocumented economy, the government of Pakistan has recently announced an Assets Declaration Ordinance 2019 that provides a simple and easier manner of declaration of undisclosed assets/sales/expenses including amounts kept in bank accounts. “You may wish to go through that scheme. However, if you think that your bank account and its transactions are declared with tax authorities or are otherwise not liable to be declared to the tax authorities as per law, please ignore this letter.”

Prime Minister Imran Khan has delivered three televised addresses to the nation, underling the importance of benefiting the assets declaration law, which will expire on June 30. "We are stuck in a debt trap. The problem now is tax theft. To end tax theft, I need your help. Until the people do not resolve, along with the government, to extricate itself from these loans, they will not be able to get out if the debt traps. I have initiated this scheme under which you can declare your assets until June 30. This scheme is a golden opportunity for you to declare money you've kept at home, dollars, jewelry, benami accounts and foreign assets that you possess," he said. Credible reports indicate that so far the response to the amnesty scheme is far below satisfaction compared to the similar facility introduced sometime back.

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