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500,000 tax dodgers: LHC grants FBR access to any person’s account

500,000 tax dodgers: LHC grants FBR access to any person’s account

LAHORE: The Lahore High Court (LHC) has granted Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) direct access to any person’s account in the country after rejecting petitions of various banks, which have challenged the authorisation given to FBR by the federal government.

LHC judge Justice Ijazul Ahsan announced a detailed verdict of 30 pages. The banks through their counsels stated that FBR’s direct access to accounts of citizens would create problems and risks in financial matters as well as were against the fundamental rights of the citizens.

FBR counsel Ilyas Khan told the judge that the government had already authorised the FBR to have access to any account.

After hearing both sides, the court gave permission to FBR to check all accounts directly through internet.

Last year, the federal government passed the Finance Bill-2013-2014 and gave FBR authority to have online and direct access to banks accounts in order to include up to 0.5 million potential tax dodgers in the tax base.

The government, through the bill, also made it clear that the information about Rs1 million plus deposits of account holders, writing off of loans exceeding Rs1 million in a year and suspicious transactions would be sought from banks.

The bill stated that FBR could also have online access to the banks’ central database containing details of its account holders and all transactions made in their accounts, including a list containing particulars of deposits aggregating Rs1 million or more made during the preceding calendar month; a list of payments made by any person against bills raised in respect of a credit card issued to that person, aggregating to Rs100,000 or more during the preceding calendar month; a consolidated list of loans written off exceeding Rs1 million during a calendar year; and a copy of each Currency Transactions Report and Suspicious Transactions Report generated and submitted by it to the Financial Monitoring Unit.

Each banking company was directed to nominate a senior officer at the head office to coordinate with the Board for provision of any information and documents.