FBR Gets Tough: 2.5 Million SIMs Face Suspension Over Tax Non-Compliance

Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) is taking a hardline stance on tax enforcement, potentially impacting millions of mobile phone users.

Crackdown Targets Non-Filers:

The FBR aims to suspend roughly 2.5 million SIM cards linked to individuals who haven’t filed their income tax returns for the 2023 tax year. This figure encompasses an estimated half a million non-filers, each potentially having up to five registered SIMs.

Transparency and Incentive:

The FBR emphasizes this isn’t purely punitive. They aim to encourage responsible citizenship and participation in the national tax system. A list of non-filers with CNIC details has been made public, ensuring transparency and holding individuals accountable.

Legal Backing and Enforcement:

The Income Tax General Order No. 1, issued in April 2024, authorizes the FBR to disable SIMs under Section 114B of the Income Tax Ordinance, 2001. A total of 506,671 individuals are targeted for SIM blocking as a consequence of non-compliance.

Deadline and Reporting:

The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) and telecom operators are mandated to implement the order by May 15, 2024, and submit compliance reports to the FBR.

Broader Economic Goals:

This crackdown aligns with the government’s plan to strengthen tax collection and broaden the tax base, crucial for Pakistan’s economic stability. Linking tax compliance to essential services like mobile connectivity underscores the importance of fulfilling tax obligations.

Taxpayer Call to Action:

The FBR urges individuals to regularize their tax status and file returns to avoid service disruptions. Restoring mobile connectivity hinges on complying with tax filing requirements.

A Bold Move with Uncertain Impact:

While aggressive, this strategy aims to foster a culture of tax compliance. The effectiveness of this approach in meeting fiscal targets and its impact on millions of Pakistanis remains to be seen as the deadline nears.

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