Wednesday, July 24, 2024

FBR to Suspend SIMs, Electricity & Gas of Non-Filers; Senate Backs Travel Ban

Non-filers could also see their businesses shut down.

As Pakistan aims to increase its tax revenues in the budget for 2024-25, the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has announced stringent actions against non-filers.

FBR Chairman Zubair Tiwana revealed that non-filers will face the suspension of electricity and gas connections, as well as SIM cards.

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On Saturday, the Senate’s Standing Committee on Finance and Revenue approved a proposal to impose a foreign travel ban on non-filers. The committee, chaired by Saleem Mandviwalla, made a series of decisions during the session.

FBR Chairman Tiwana informed the committee that non-filers would face actions under the Income Tax General Order (ITGO), with exemptions granted for Hajj, Umrah, children, students, and holders of the National Identity Card for Overseas Pakistanis (NICOP). He explained that non-filers could also see their businesses shut down.

During the session, PPP Senator Farooq H. Naek emphasized that travel restrictions on non-filers should be implemented similarly to those on the exit control list (ECL). Tiwana added that a higher withholding tax rate was approved for non-filers and mentioned that the non-filer list includes 500,000 individuals with annual incomes over 2 million rupees.

Tiwana also noted that these individuals had previously disclosed their income statements with their tax return documents. Temporary filers will also have to pay additional tax on vehicle, plot, and residence purchases.

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Furthermore, the Senate committee approved a proposal to reduce the salary slab and increase taxes. It also approved a 75% withholding tax on the cellular and internet bills of non-filers.

Earlier this week, Finance Minister Muhammad Aurangzeb highlighted the necessity of widening the tax net, emphasizing that the country cannot sustain a 9.5% tax-to-GDP ratio. “We have to bring everyone into the tax net. We are aiming to bring everyone onto the active taxpayers’ list,” he stated on a private news channel. He added, “We have to abolish the non-filer category in the country.”

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