FBR restores IR officers’ powers to freeze bank accounts for recovery

Shahnawaz Akhter Web Editor

11th Oct, 2021. 11:26 pm

KARACHI: The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has restored the powers of the tax officials to freeze the bank accounts for the recovery of duty and taxes.

In this regard, the FBR on Monday issued instructions to all field offices of the Inland Revenue. The revenue body authorised the tax officers to exercise powers under the Income Tax Ordinance, 2001 and Sales Tax Act, 1990 for the recovery of outstanding tax demands.

Previously on May 5, 2019, through an order by the FBR chairman, the tax officers were barred from taking action prior to the permission for freezing bank accounts of defaulted taxpayers.

“No bank accounts attachment unless the taxpayer’s CEO/principal officer/owner is informed at least 24 hours prior to attachment and the FBR chairman’s approval is obtained,” according to the instructions issued in May 2019.

The latest instructions read: “… in order to implement the law in its true spirit and to re-vest the power vested in the institution of the commissioners viz-a-viz action under Section 140 of the Income Tax Ordinance, 2001, the instruction referred supra (the previous one) are; hereby, withdrawn ab-initio.

Previously, the instructions were issued by the then FBR chairman Syed Shabbar Zaidi, who remained the head of the organisation from May 10, 2019 to January 6, 2020.

Shabbar Zaidi in his tweet reacted to the latest decision and said: “I am personally sorry to hear the withdrawal of the first instruction issued when I joined as the FBR chairman. No freezing of bank accounts without intimation and approval from the FBR chairman.”

“Due to this there was a major relief to [the] taxpayers. I urge [the] prime minister, finance minister and the FBR chairman to reinstate.”

The former chairman also said people ask him why he left FBR? Withdrawal of clarification issued by him on raids and freezing of bank accounts is an example, he added.

“When I was working in an organisation where 99.99 per cent staff are interested in power, then one man can only be effective when the stakeholders support. It was not so, he added.

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