KARACHI: Tax officials have immense powers to enter any premises for the purpose of audit of a taxpayer or survey of a potential taxpayer.
According to Income Tax Ordinance, 2001 recently updated by Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) the officials of Inland Revenue can enter any premises without prior notice for obtaining record in connection to tax audit or survey of a person liable to tax.
Section 175: Power to enter and search premises
Sub-Section (1): In order to enforce any provision of this Ordinance (including for the purpose of making an audit of a taxpayer or a survey of persons liable to tax), the Commissioner or any officer authorized in writing by the Commissioner for the purposes of this section –
(a) shall, at all times and without prior notice, have full and free access to any premises, place, accounts, documents or computer;
(b) may stamp, or make an extract or copy of any accounts, documents or computer-stored information to which access is obtained under clause (a);
(c) may impound any accounts or documents and retain them for so long as may be necessary for examination or for the purposes of prosecution;
(d) may, where a hard copy or computer disk of information stored on a computer is not made available, impound and retain the computer for as long as is necessary to copy the information required; and
(e) may make an inventory of any articles found in any premises or place to which access is obtained under clause (a).
Sub-Section (2): The Commissioner may authorize any valuer or expert to enter any premises and perform any task assigned to him by the Commissioner.
Sub-Section (3): The occupier of any premises or place to which access is sought under sub-section (1) shall provide all reasonable facilities and assistance for the effective exercise of the right of access.
Sub-Section (4): Any accounts, documents or computer impounded and retained under sub-section (1) shall be signed for by the Commissioner or an authorized officer.
Sub-Section (5): A person whose accounts, documents or computer have been impounded and retained under sub-section (1) may examine them and make extracts or copies from them during regular office hours under such supervision as the Commissioner may determine.
Sub-Section (6): Where any accounts, documents or computer impounded and retained under sub-section (1) are lost or destroyed while in the possession of the Commissioner, the Commissioner shall make reasonable compensation to the owner of the accounts, documents or computer for the loss or destruction.
Sub-Section (7): This section shall have effect notwithstanding any rule of law relating to privilege or the public interest in relation to access to premises or places, or the production of accounts, documents or computer-stored information.
Sub-Section (8): In this section, “occupier” in relation to any premises or place, means the owner, manager or any other responsible person on the premises or place.