No freezing of bank accounts without prior nod, notice: FBR Chairman

Right after assuming charge, the FBR Chairman Syed Shabbar Zaidi has barred its field formations from freezing bank accounts of taxpayers without prior intimation. He has linked the freezing of bank accounts with prior approval of the FBR chairman and intimation to the accountholder at least 24 hours before freezing the bank account..

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In a bid to minimize harassment of taxpayers, the newly appointed chairman of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has barred the authorities from freezing taxpayers’ accounts without his prior approval and a 24-hour prior notice to the account holder.

Right after assuming charge, the FBR Chairman Syed Shabbar Zaidi has barred its field formations from freezing bank accounts of taxpayers without prior intimation. He has linked the freezing of bank accounts with prior approval of the FBR chairman and intimation to the account holder at least 24 hours before freezing the bank account.

The establishment division has notified Zaidi as the new FBR chairman on an honorary basis amid strong opposition from top tax officers.

“No bank account attachment unless the taxpayer’s CEO/principal officer/owner is informed at least 24 hours prior to the attachment and the FBR chairman’s approval is obtained,” read the FBR notification sent to its 23 field formations.

Zaidi directed all chief commissioners of inland revenue to inform the account holders 24 hours prior to freezing their accounts if they must do so. While talking to media, he said that there is already a provision for freezing a bank account as the last recourse in case of a dispute between the account holder and institutions.

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In order to minimize harassment of the taxpayer, Zaidi said his first priority was to give respect to the existing taxpayers and freezing their bank accounts without valid reasons was tantamount to disrespecting them.

FBR Chief aims to Document undocumented Economy

In his interaction with journalists, Zaidi revealed that his intention was to document the undocumented economy as it would increase the tax base.

Zaidi shared his vision to revamp the tax system and tax machinery and discussed broader problem areas affecting the institution.

“My intention and aim is to document the undocumented economy. The documentation of the undocumented economy will automatically increase the tax base,” he said while answering a question regarding tax reforms.

“No one can estimate the [volume of] parallel economy. Some people say it amounts to 30 percent of the economy, some say it is 40 percent, my opinion is that it would be more than 30 percent,” he said, adding that his task was to bring the undocumented sector under the scope of the tax net.

Read more: FBR has recovered Rs 167 million so far, SC told

Zaidi takes FBR officer into Confidence

Earlier, Zaidi tried to take the FBR’s senior management, which has opposed Zaidi’s appointment, into confidence and assured them that he would address their issues. He sought officers’ support to work as a team for the betterment of the institution and the country.

Zaidi revealed that his intention was to document the undocumented economy as it would increase the tax base.

In his address, Zaidi shared his vision to revamp the tax system and tax machinery and discussed broader problem areas affecting the institution.

While stressing the need for shifting from manual to a completely automated system to facilitate the taxpayers, he reiterated the need for documenting the undocumented economy as well as all the economic transactions. He was of the view that the move would be a source of generating more revenue for the country.

Read more: FBR modifies tax amnesty scheme

“The FBR officers asked questions which were answered by the new chairman in a very candid manner,” read the statement issued by the FBR after Zaidi’s meeting with the officers. Meanwhile, the government has appointed Younus Dagha as the Secretary Revenue Division. Earlier, both the posts were held by the same person.

The establishment division has notified Zaidi as the new FBR chairman on an honorary basis amid strong opposition from top tax officers. He has become the third person from the private sector to hold the post. Prime Minister Imran Khan had made the announcement for his appointment during a briefing with journalists on the proposed local government system in Punjab a few days ago.

In March this year, it was reported that the FBR had frozen around 4,000 bank accounts of tax defaulters in an attempt to recover the outstanding amount from tax defaulters.

In the major crackdown during the first three months, the media reported, the bank accounts were attached to recover around Rs8.2 billion through various means provided under income tax laws.

Apart from freezing the bank accounts, the FBR had also attached 78 immovable properties and 46 vehicles for the recovery. It was reported that total of nine people were arrested in the recovery drive.



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