FBR officials treat taxpayers as criminal using search powers

KARACHI: Business community has resented the use of powers related to search by Inland Revenue officers and treating registered taxpayers as criminal.

Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) in its proposals for budget 2020/2021 demanded amending such provisions to avoid such misuse of powers.

The KCCI while highlighting provision Section 40 of Sales Tax Act, 1990, said that the officers of Inland Revenue at their discretion and opinion may obtain a warrant from the magistrate and conduct searches of the premises of registered persons at any time.

The search made under sub-section (1) shall be carried out in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898 (V of 1898).

The chamber said that the officials are treating registered persons as criminals.

Powers to enter and search any place gives immense powers to officers of Inland Revenue. Such powers can be misused for harassment and extortion of tax payers.

The law also does not define the “place” which can be search, therefore it may include homes and personal residences of tax payers.

The chamber proposed that the provisions should be amended to prevent misuse.

“No searches should be made without prior notice in writing to the registered person. No searches may be conducted outside the working hours and holidays or immediately prior to holidays.”

The proposed amendment shall alleviate fears of the business persons and it will also encourage new tax-payers and curtail discretionary powers.

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