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Amnesty scheme sees massive response

Amnesty scheme sees massive response

ISLAMABAD: With days to go before its end, the tax amnesty scheme announced by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz government has seen a surge of interest. According to multiple well-placed sources in the Federal Board of Revenue, so far Rs21 billion has already been raised under it in the form of taxes till June 21.

The tax amount created through the amnesty declaration and deposited in the banks stood at nearly Rs5bn, while the remaining tax amount of Rs16bn has been created in the FBR online system through the submission of challenges.

The deadline of the scheme is June 30 which, according to the law, is non-extendable. Pressure is mounting on the government from various sides to extend the deadline. Rs21bn tax raised thus far; according to law, June 30 deadline can’t be extended

Looking at the numbers of declarations coming in, and those in the pipeline, the sources in the FBR and finance ministry said the total amount of tax paid on assets declared under the scheme could well go as high as Rs100bn, though it was too early to properly calculate this number at this stage.

The scheme became effective from April 10 and expires on June 30. It allows people to voluntarily declare domestic as well as foreign assets that had till April 10 been held beyond the tax authorities’ knowledge and reach. It offers varying rates that will be charged on these assets, ranging from 2 to 5 per cent, depending on whether it is a domestic or foreign asset, the asset class, and whether or not it is being repatriated to the country or now. This is the fourth in a series of amnesty schemes announced by the PML-N government in five years, and comes at a time when many holders of black money abroad are already very concerned about the OECD tax information treaty that Pakistan has signed which will enable automatic sharing of information with many other countries. That automatic sharing is set to begin on Sept 1 of this year.

The FBR spokesperson said the response from people increased overwhelmingly after remarks from Chief Justice of Pakistan Saqib Nisar that the bureau could pursue the scheme. A Supreme Court bench was hearing the case on the matter at its Lahore registry.

Several technical flaws were discovered in the scheme meant for declaration of foreign assets which needed clarification and improvement along the way. “We have addressed almost all queries and issues raised by intended people who want to declare their foreign assets,” the FBR source told Dawn. These apprehensions were removed in consultation with chartered accounts that are in direct contact with intended clients.