FBR defers digital payment provision for one month

FBR defers digital payment provision for one month

ISLAMABAD: The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has deferred the implementation of a digital mode of payment for one month.

The digital mode of payment has been made mandatory for the corporate sector, which was to be implemented from November 01, 2021.

The FBR issued Circular No. 09 of 2021-22 on Monday to allow an extension in the deadline for implementation of digital mode of payment up to November 30, 2021.

The new provision was introduced through Tax Laws (Third Amendment) Ordinance, 2021.

The FBR in its explanation through Circular No. 07 dated September 23, 2021 said: to improve documentation, a new clause (la) has been inserted in section 21 of the Ordinance.

Previously payments under a single head account exceeding two hundred and fifty thousand rupees, made by any taxpayer were required to be made through crossed cheque or crossed baking instruments including digital payments.

“Through this amendment, payments made by a company under a single head of account exceeding two hundred and fifty thousand rupees other than by digital means from business bank account of the taxpayer notified to the Commissioner under section 114A of the Ordinance shall not be admissible as deductions.”

However, certain expenditures on account of utility bills, freight charges, travel fare, and payment of taxes and fines would continue to be admissible even though paid in cash or via traditional banking instruments.

The purpose behind this legislative enactment is to encourage digital payments and discourage traditional mode of transactions by the corporate sector in the first phase.

However, owing to lack of total digital readiness by some corporate taxpayers, the corporate taxpayers are allowed to switch to this mode w.e.f. 01.11.2021.

In the intervening period they may use digital payments or continue with the existing procedure of making payments by a crossed cheque drawn on a bank or by crossed bank draft or crossed pay order or any other crossed banking instrument showing transfer of amount from the business bank account of the taxpayer.

Furthermore, any salary paid or payable exceeding twenty five thousand rupees per month has to be made through cross cheque or direct transfer of funds to the employee’s bank account under clause (m) of section 21 of the Ordinance. In order to bring this provision in conformity with newly inserted clause (la) ibid, in case of payments against salary in excess of twenty five thousand rupees per month, the mode of digital payment has been added to the available modes referred to above.

The Pakistan Tax Bar Association (PTBA) last week in a letter to the FBR chairman stated that the implementation of digital payment was not practical at the moment.

The PTBA made the following submissions to substantiate its claim:

(i) It is impossible to make payment to goods carriage/transport sector by the digital means, which will create complete unrest in the goods carriage and transport sector.

(ii) Presently, port terminal charges, wharfage charges, charges for clearance of delivery orders are paid in advance through crossed cheques or payorders. It will not be out of place to mention here that the port terminal operators and shipping lines, are unaware and are not ready for implementation of the ‘digital mode of payment.’

(iii) It is routine business practice that advance against delivery of goods, the buyer submits its payment by way of post-dated cheques, which normally accepted by the other party and inherently a secured way of making payment. We are afraid that this law of ‘digital mode of payment’ is surely going to hamper the business activities, as it does not cater the situation and solution of such transactions.

(iv) The similar issues are likely to arise and are to be faced by the companies for making payments to the growers of various agricultural crops such as fruits, sugarcane, rice, cotton, wheat, etc.

(v) The various banks have fixed their own limitation on the quantity of making digital / online payments in a day and have also fixed the threshold of the amount and they do not allow to exceed the threshold limit fixed by them. In our view, this also needs a proper campaign without which the implementation of the law is not possible.

(vi) The digital mode of payment is also impractical and is likely to affect the business transaction in the cases where petty cash payments, in aggregate exceed millions of rupees, which cannot be made digitally.

(vii) It will not be out of place to mention that online transactions are still considered as unsecured mode, due to various type online frauds and hacking of software.

Furthermore, a cyber attack on Pakistan’s leading bank last Friday also made the implementation in jeopardy. The PTBA has also pointed its concerns about the cyber security issue.

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