Finance Bill 2019: tax officials granted powers to enter premises for gold, prize bonds; KCCI opposes

KARACHI: The Finance Bill 2019 has proposed discretionary powers to Commissioner Inland Revenue to enter and search any premises for undeclared gold and prize bonds.

Under Section 175 of Income Tax Ordinance, 2001 such powers have already with the commissioners but the proposal intended to expand the power to include gold and bearer security.

Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) has opposed strongly to this recommendations saying that this is against the dignity granted to an individual as per the Article 14 of the Constitution and would tantamount to violation of sanctity of residential premises, if raided.

A research report of the KCCI said that raiding of homes and subsequent breach of privacy is against national cultural norms and is an idea uncalled for, having grave social repercussions.

“This proposal is also against the spirit of withdrawal of discretionary powers of the taxman.”

The Asset Declaration Scheme 2019 also does not allow declaration of gold, precious stones, bearer security and bearer prize bonds, thereby restricting a holder of such assets from declaring them before probable confiscation. Any such measure before allowance of declaration makes this a very harsh measure.

Such sweeping discretionary powers granted to the Commissioner would result in harassment to ordinary citizens including housewives and the elderly, as now raids could be made on homes as well, and by no means should be allowed to be confiscated.

Hence, this proposal should be removed from the budget. Further, the Asset Declaration Scheme 2019 should be amended to include declaration of gold and bearer securities.

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