Income Tax Ordinance 2001: Commissioner can take assistance of police, civil armed forces to conduct audit

KARACHI: A commissioner of Inland Revenue (IR) can take assistance of government authorities, police and civil armed forces to conduct audit of taxpayers.

According to updated Income Tax Ordinance, 2001 recently issued by the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), Section 178 explained the powers of Commissioner IR.

Section 178: Assistance to Commissioner

“Every Officer of Customs, Provincial Excise and Taxation, District Coordination Officer, District Officers including District Officer – Revenue, the Police and the Civil Armed Forces is empowered and required to assist the Commissioner in the discharge of the Commissioner’s functions under this Ordinance.”

The Section 177 of the Ordinance explains the powers of Commissioner to call for any record of taxpayer for conducting audit.

177: Audit.—

Sub-Section (1): The Commissioner may call for any record or documents including books of accounts maintained under this Ordinance or any there law for the time being in force for conducting audit of the income tax affairs of the person and where such record or documents have been kept on electronic data, the person shall allow access to the Commissioner or the officer authorized by the Commissioner for use of machine and software on which such data is kept and the Commissioner or the officer may have access to the required information and data and duly attested hard copies of such information or data for the purpose of investigation and proceedings under this Ordinance in respect of such person or any other person:

Provided that—

(a) the Commissioner may, after recording reasons in writing call for record or documents including books of accounts of the taxpayer; and

(b) the reasons shall be communicated to the taxpayer while calling record or documents including books of accounts of the taxpayer:

Provided further that the Commissioner shall not call for record or documents of the taxpayer after expiry of six years from the end of the tax year to which they relate.

Sub-Section (2): After obtaining the record of a person under sub-section (1) or where necessary record is not maintained, the Commissioner shall conduct an audit of the income tax affairs (including examination of accounts and records, enquiry into expenditure, assets and liabilities) of that person or any other person and may call for such other information and documents as he may deem appropriate.

Sub-Sections (3) (4) and (5) omitted

Sub-Section (6): After completion of the audit, the Commissioner may, if considered necessary, after obtaining taxpayer’s explanation on all the issues raised in the audit, amend the assessment under sub-section (1) or sub-section (4) of section 122, as the case may be.

Sub-Section (7): The fact that a person has been audited in a year shall not preclude the person from being audited again in the next and following years where there are reasonable grounds for such audits.

Sub-Section (8): The Board may appoint a firm of Chartered Accountants as defined under the Chartered Accountants Ordinance, 1961 (X of 1961) or a firm of Cost and Management Accountants as defined under the Cost and Management Accountants Act, 1966 (XIV of 1966), or a firm of Cost and Management Accountants as defined under the Cost and Management Accountants Act, 1966 (XIV of 1966) to conduct an audit of the income tax affairs of any person or classes of persons and the scope of such audit shall be as determined by the Board or the Commissioner on a case to case basis.

Sub-Section (9): Any person employed by a firm referred to in sub-section (8) may be authorized by the Commissioner, in writing, to exercise the powers in sections 175 and 176 for the purposes of conducting an audit under that sub-section.

Sub-Section (10): Notwithstanding anything contained in sub-sections (2) and (6) where a person fails to produce before the Commissioner or a firm of Chartered Accountants or a firm of Cost and Management Accountants appointed by the Board or the Commissioner under sub-section (8) to conduct an audit, any accounts, documents and records, required to be maintained under section 174 or any other relevant document, electronically kept record, electronic machine or any other evidence that may be required by the Commissioner or the firm of Chartered Accountants or the firm of Cost and Management Accountants for the purpose of audit or determination of income and tax due thereon, the Commissioner may proceed to make best judgment assessment under section 121 of this Ordinance and the assessment treated to have been made on the basis of return or revised return filed by the taxpayer shall be of no legal effect.

Explanation.— For the removal of doubt, it is declared that the powers of the Commissioner under this section are independent of the powers of the Board under section 214C and nothing contained in section 214C restricts the powers of the Commissioner to call for the record or documents including books of accounts of a taxpayer for audit and to conduct audit under this section.

Sub-Section (11): The Board may appoint as many special audit panels as may be necessary, comprising two or more members from the following:—

(a) an officer or officers of Inland Revenue;

(b) a firm of chartered accountants as defined under the Chartered Accountants Ordinance, 1961 (X of 1961);

(c) a firm of cost and management accountants as defined under the Cost and Management Accountants Act, 1966 (XIV of 1966); or

(d) any other person including a foreign expert or specialist as directed by the Board, to conduct an audit, including a forensic audit, of the income tax affairs of any person or classes of persons and the scope of such audit shall be as determined by the Board or the Commissioner on case-to-case basis.

(e) a tax audit expert deployed under an audit assistance programme of an international tax organization or a tax authority outside Pakistan:

Provided that in case the member is not an officer of Inland Revenue, the person shall only be included as a member in the special audit panel if an agreement of confidentiality has been entered into between the Board and the person, international tax organization or a tax authority, as the case may be.

Sub-Section (12): Special audit panel under sub-section (1) shall be headed by a Chairman who shall be an officer of Inland Revenue.

Sub-Section (13): Powers under sections 175 and 176 for the purposes of conducting an audit under sub-section (11), shall only be exercised by an officer or officers of Inland Revenue, who are member or members of the special audit panel, and authorized by the Commissioner.

Sub-Section (14): Notwithstanding anything contained in sub-sections (2) and(6), where a person fails to produce before the Commissioner or a special audit panel under sub-section (11) to conduct an audit, any accounts, documents and records, required to be maintained under section 174 or any other relevant document, electronically kept record, electronic machine or any other evidence that may be required by the Commissioner or the panel, the Commissioner may proceed to make best judgment assessment under section 121 and the assessment treated to have been made on the basis of return or revised return filed by the taxpayer shall be of no legal effect.

Sub-Section (15): If any one member of the special audit panel, other than the Chairman, is absent from conducting an audit, the proceedings of the audit may continue, and the audit conducted by the special audit panel shall not be invalid or be called in question merely on the ground of such absence.

Sub-Section (16): Functions performed by an officer or officers of Inland Revenue as members of the special audit panel, for conducting audit, shall be treated to have been performed by special audit panel.

Sub-Section (17): The Board may prescribe the mode and manner of constitution, procedure and working of the special audit panel.

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