ISLAMABAD: The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) on Wednesday announced the provision of Benami Act to confiscate whole properties, expensive vehicles and bank accounts registered with fictitious individuals will come into effect retrospectively from Feb 1, 2017.
Top tax officials of the FBR briefed the media two-days after the notification of the rules that benami properties can only prosecuted under the new law since its implementation. The law which was passed in February 2017 was delayed owing to finalization of rules for its implementation.
FBR Member Inland Revenue (IR) Policy Dr Hamid Ateeq Sarwar said under the law maximum powers are given to the tax officers from attachment of property for 90 days to holding of records and search of premises. He said the attachment can be extended for another term.
He said that benami holder would be awarded penalty of one year minimum and seven years imprisonment, whereas the person providing wrong information to this effect would be awarded 6 months minimum and five years maximum.
Taxmen get sweeping powers of confiscation
The member said that FBR will work as prosecuting agency and will collect the information about benami transactions. He said three jurisdictions were notified with commissioner based in Karachi who will deal with the cases of benami transactions in Sindh and Baluchistan, while a Lahore-based commissioner of income tax will have jurisdiction of areas in South Punjab up to Faisalabad.
The commissioner at Regional Tax Office Islamabad will cover the areas from Gujranwala to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The adjudication authority will be established at Islamabad. He said the chairman of the authority can be officers in services or retired. This will not be in control of FBR. However, the panel of the authority will be sent to federal government by the FBR.
The cases will be then referred to the federal tribunal by either party. The federal tribunal will be established by the government with a current judge of a high court as chairman, along with accountant member who will be an income tax officer of BPS21 and another member will be a retired district and session judge.
Published in Dawn, March 14th, 2019