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Expensive gifts: FBR sends notices to near 3,000 people

Expensive gifts: FBR sends notices to near 3,000 people

ISLAMABAD: The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has sent notices to 2,785 people over receiving expensive gifts during the previous fiscal year by expanding money-laundering investigations.

According to reports, the people had declared these expensive gifts worth millions of rupees in their wealth statement. FBR believes this way could have been adopted by miscreants for money-laundering and tax evasion.

The report revealed that three people declared gifts worth Rs1 billion or more in wealth statements, eight declared between Rs500 million and Rs1 billion, 97 individuals declared between Rs100 million and Rs200 million and 280 people between Rs50 million and Rs100 million.

Moreover, 2,000 people had declared gifts worth between Rs10 million and Rs50 million during the last fiscal year.

It may be mentioned here that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who is in hot waters since the start of Panama Papers case, had also received Rs1.07 billion as gift from his son in the Panama scandal.

Under the existing laws, gifts are exempted from taxes and a large number of such individuals with high net worth are using the option as safe means of transferring income, assets and wealth without contributing to the national revenue.

The newly-appointed Director General of Intelligence and Investigation, Shad Mohammad, has also confirmed the issuance of notices to these people who received hefty gifts from various quarters. He said that his department is coordinating with the regional tax offices (RTOs) for enforcement of these notices.

The RTOs will scrutinise the cases to determine whether or not these expensive gifts came from legitimate sources.

The cases involving money laundering through “gift back arrangements” were unearthed during the scrutiny of tax returns filed by the wealthy individuals last year. It was found that income was declared in many returns, but taxes paid on the income were nominal. The wealth statements of the individuals showed that their net assets were running into hundreds of millions of rupees, and even higher in some cases.

The anti-money laundering cell of Intelligence and Investigation, Inland Revenue, has launched investigation against the identified people who put assets worth millions of rupees in the gift category while filing their returns, according to the official. Data collected by the cell revealed that 2,785 rich individuals declared receipt of gifts worth Rs102bn in their wealth statements in the tax year 2016.