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FBR tightening the nose around non-filers blocked more than 11,000 SIMs

Islamabad: The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has tightened nose against non filers as 11,252 SIMs have been blocked so far.

According to the FBR, the mobile SIMs are blocked under the income tax general order.

The spokesperson added that the tax collection body dedicated to promote tax compliance and tax culture.

On April 30, the FBR had released a comprehensive list of 506,671 individuals who failed to file their tax returns for 2023. As a penalty, their mobile phone SIMs were to be promptly blocked. However, telecom providers objected to the decision and delayed its execution, which was made under an act of parliament.

On May 4, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) had refused to act upon the FBR’s demand, saying its execution did not fall within its jurisdiction and thus the order would have “no legal binding effect”.

Days later, telecom companies had collectively forwarded their concerns to the Ministry of IT, contending that the FBR’s decision to block SIMs of non-filers was made in undue haste and would adversely impact telecom customers.

The letter by the cellular mobile operators (CMOs) said they were obligated to provide uninterrupted services to their customers except in the circumstances mentioned in the Telecom Act and applicable regulations; there are no instances wherein CMOs can disconnect or block the service of any customer.

Finally, on May 10, telecom operators agreed to initiate the manual blocking process in small batches of non-filers, ending a week-long standoff over the implementation of the tax machinery drive to broaden the tax base.

The understanding had been reached after the FBR held crucial meetings with the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) and telecom operators to implement Income Tax General Order No. 1, issued under Section 114 B of the Income Tax Ordinance 2001.