Tax Officers Barred from Entering Homes After Sunset for Arrests

Tax Officers Barred from Entering Homes After Sunset for Arrests

Karachi, December 21, 2023 – Tax officers across the country are now prohibited from entering dwelling houses to make arrests after sunset, according to the recently updated Income Tax Rules, 2002 for the tax year 2024.

The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) introduced this significant change to ensure fair and considerate practices during tax enforcement.

The FBR, in its updated rules, explicitly outlined the conditions under which tax officers are allowed to enter a dwelling house for the purpose of making an arrest. The key provisions are as follows:

(a) No entry after sunset and before sunrise:

According to the updated rules, tax officers are strictly prohibited from entering any dwelling house after sunset and before sunrise. This time restriction aims to respect the privacy and security of individuals and their families, recognizing the sensitivity of entering someone’s home during nighttime hours.

(b) Limited use of force:

The rules emphasize that no outer door of a dwelling house should be broken open unless the defaulter or any other occupant of the house refuses or hinders access. The use of force is justified only when necessary, ensuring that the officers respect the rights and properties of the individuals involved. However, once access is gained, the officer may break open doors or rooms if there is reason to believe that the defaulter is likely to be found there.

(c) Special considerations for women occupants:

The updated rules also take into account the privacy and cultural considerations related to women. No room occupied by a woman, especially one who customarily does not appear in public, shall be entered without prior notice. The officer must inform the woman that she is at liberty to withdraw and provide her with a reasonable time and facility for doing so. This provision aims to protect the dignity and privacy of women during tax enforcement actions.

These amendments to the Income Tax Rules, 2002, reflect a broader effort by the FBR to strike a balance between enforcing tax regulations and respecting the rights and privacy of individuals. The FBR recognizes the importance of fair and considerate practices in tax enforcement, and this latest update aligns with international standards of human rights and legal procedures.

The move has been welcomed by various stakeholders, including civil rights advocates and legal experts, who have long called for a more humane approach in tax enforcement. The updated rules are expected to foster a more cooperative relationship between tax authorities and the public, promoting voluntary compliance with tax regulations.

While the FBR continues its efforts to enhance tax collection and compliance, these new rules signal a positive step towards a more respectful and transparent tax enforcement process in Pakistan. The balance between enforcing tax laws and protecting individual rights is crucial for building trust in the tax system and encouraging voluntary compliance among taxpayers.