PRA empowered to arrest tax defaulters, imprison for six months

PRA empowered to arrest tax defaulters, imprison for six months

LAHORE: Punjab Revenue Authority (PRA) has been empowered to arrest defaulters and imprison for six months for making recovery of outstanding tax.

The Punjab Finance Bill, 2020 has proposed to empower PRA in certain provisions of Punjab Sales Tax Act, 2012 for making recovery of outstanding tax.

According to interpretation of Punjab Finance Bill, 2020 by PwC A. F. Ferguson, the bill proposes to empower tax authorities whereby they may also require a financial institution or banking company to make payment of tax due from a registered person out of running and demand finance extended to the registered person.

By way of insertion of clause (g) to section 70 of the Act, it also empowers the department to arrest a defaulter and imprison him for not more than six months where a tax demand has been upheld by the Appellate Tribunal.

No action is presently taken where a person deposits at least 25 percent of the tax demand during pendency of an appeal. It is proposed to reduce this limit to 10 percent of the tax demand. This is a positive amendment.

The amendments relating to administrative and procedural matters are summarized as under:

— The power of the PRA to de-register a person is proposed to be devolved to the Commissioner.

— The PRA is being authorized to specify format of invoices to be issued by a registered person or class of registered persons and to prescribe a procedure for authentication of such invoices.

— The PRA or authorized officer may require any registered person or class of registered persons to issue invoices electronically and transmit such invoices to PRA in the prescribed manner.

— To streamline audit proceedings, it is proposed to empower officers to conduct audit proceedings electronically through video links or any other facility as may be notified by PRA.

— It is proposed to empower even officers, below the rank of an Assistant Commissioner, to call for information or documents regarding any enquiry or audit.

Earlier, only an Assistant Commissioners or Officers with higher ranks may call for such information.

— To facilitate taxpayers, it is proposed that appeal before the Commissioner (Appeals) may also be filed through electronically.

— The period of filing an appeal before the appellate tribunal is proposed to enhance from 30 days to 60 days.