FBR Crackdown on Non-Filers Threatens 2.5 Million SIMs

FBR Crackdown on Non-Filers Threatens 2.5 Million SIMs

Karachi, May 8, 2024 – The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has issued a directive that could lead to the suspension of approximately 2.5 million mobile phone SIMs.

This action targets around half a million individuals who have not filed their income tax returns, highlighting a significant escalation in the enforcement of tax laws.

A senior official from the FBR recently shed light on the implications of Income Tax General Order No. 1, dated April 29, 2024. According to the order, all mobile phone SIMs registered under the CNICs of identified non-filers will be temporarily disabled. Considering that each individual can register up to five SIMs per CNIC, the total impact could disrupt the mobile connectivity of 2.5 million SIMs across the nation.

The official emphasized that the aim of this drastic measure is not just to penalize but to push towards greater fiscal responsibility and participation in the national tax regime. The list of non-filers, complete with their CNIC details, has been publicized, ensuring transparency in the FBR’s approach and letting individuals know exactly where they stand in the eyes of the tax authority.

This initiative stems from a broader effort outlined in the recently published Income Tax General Order. The document explains that the move is part of a series of steps designed to enhance adherence to the Income Tax Ordinance, 2001. Specifically, the order targets those who were supposed to file returns for the Tax Year 2023 but failed to appear on the active taxpayer list.

Section 114B of the Income Tax Ordinance, 2001, grants FBR the authority to disable mobile SIMs. The order lists 506,671 individuals whose SIMs are to be blocked as a non-compliance penalty. These measures are hoped to serve as a strong incentive for individuals to settle their tax statuses.

Furthermore, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) along with all telecom operators are mandated to implement this order immediately. They are also required to submit a compliance report to the FBR by May 15, 2024, ensuring that the process is transparent and accountable.

FBR’s current crackdown reflects a broader governmental push towards enhancing tax collection and broadening the tax base, which are critical for the country’s economic stability and growth. By linking tax compliance with essential services like mobile connectivity, the FBR aims to convey the message that fulfilling tax obligations is not optional.

Taxpayers are urged to regularize their status and file their income tax returns promptly to avoid inconvenience. The FBR has made it clear that the restoration of mobile phone services is contingent on compliance with tax filing requirements as specified.

This measure, while aggressive, is seen as a necessary step to foster a culture where tax compliance is the norm, benefiting the entire nation by ensuring a fair distribution of the tax burden. As the deadline for compliance draws near, it remains to be seen how this bold strategy will impact the fiscal landscape and the daily lives of potentially millions of Pakistanis.