Over 100,000 SIMs Blocked as FBR Cracks Down on Non-Tax Filers

Pakistan’s Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) is taking a firm stance against non-filers of income tax returns. Their efforts have resulted in the blocking of over 105,000 SIM cards as of June.

FBR Systematically Targeting Non-Filers:

  • Data Sharing with Telecom Operators: The FBR is systematically identifying non-filers and sharing their data with telecom companies.
  • Daily Updates: Data for 5,000 non-filers is reportedly being sent to telecom operators on a daily basis.

Compliance Through SIM Blockage:

  • Over 18,000 SIMs Restored: This initiative appears to be encouraging compliance, with over 18,902 individuals filing their tax returns after having their SIMs blocked.

Background and Developments:

  • Joint Working Group Established: In May 2024, the FBR formed a working group with telecom operators to streamline the SIM blocking process.
  • Initial Resistance from Telcos: Leading telecom companies initially resisted blocking SIMs, but began enforcing the measure in late May.
  • Large Pool of Non-Filers Identified: The FBR has identified over 506,671 individuals who failed to file their 2023 income tax returns.

Uncertainties and Future Actions:

  • Impact on Remaining Non-Filers: It remains to be seen how many more non-filers will comply due to the SIM blocking initiative.
  • FBR’s Continued Focus: The FBR’s commitment to tackling non-compliance suggests they may continue this approach.

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