ISLAMABAD: Federal tax authorities and the lawyer for Prime Minister Imran Khan’s sister Aleema Khanum have res­po­n­d­ed to criticism of an amendment proposed to be made to the Income Tax Ordinance (ITO).

In a statement issued on Friday, Advocate Salman Akram Raja, who has been representing Ms Khanum in the Supreme Court, said the funds used for the purchase of property abroad were transferred through the banking channel.

He said that bank loans against mortgages were availed overseas.

FBR also responds after criticism that amendment proposed to be made to income tax law is for benefit of prime minister’s sister

The statement said the prime minister’s sister had partially paid the tax assessed by the FBR and “was in the process of paying it fully”.

It added: “The sources of our client’s [Aleema Khanum] income and assets have nothing whatsoever to do with any of the charities with which our client is associated or with any of her siblings.”

Mr Raja’s statement claimed that “rum­ours” being spread regarding Ms Khanum’s source of wealth and money trail were baseless.

Meanwhile, the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) said it enjoyed powers to “raise immediate demand and effect recovery” on provisional basis in case government confiscated local assets under Section 123 of the ITO.

FBR said it already had information about bank accounts of Pakistanis from 26 countries and the proposed amendment to Section 123 of the ITO would enable the tax collection body to move swiftly for taxing people involved in holding offshore assets.

The board said the scope of the section was proposed to be extended to discovery of undeclared offshore assets through the latest Finance Bill.

“Now the demand and recovery of tax [from] such persons can be executed immediately after receipt of information in suitable cases,” FBR said, adding the measure was necessary to enable the board to recover tax provisionally before the money moved out of bank accounts and the regular proceedings, which took about a year or two, followed.

FBR said it could also request assistance in recovery of such taxes from foreign jurisdictions wherever it finalised bilateral and multilateral agreements with them.

“This will ensure that FBR can request freezing of offshore accounts... by conveying demand to such countries,” the statement added.

FBR also clarified that the proposed amendment was in addition to the existing measures in income tax laws, Anti-Money Laundering Act and FIA/NAB laws as the money smuggling and money laundering laws had not been relaxed.

Published in Dawn, January 26th, 2019