FBR to send tax notices to TV anchors, showbiz celebrities
By: Mehtab Haider
ISLAMABAD: Ignoring the ruling elites including ministers, parliamentarians and bureaucrats, the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has decided to send tax notices to renowned TV anchors and showbiz personalities on the pretext that they are not paying due taxes on their genuine incomes, The News has learnt.
This correspondent personally saw the file of tax profiles prepared by FBR’s Intelligence and Investigation Wing of Inland Revenue Service Wing but the names of TV journalists who would be served tax notices were not disclosed here because the notice had not been served so far.
The names of parliamentarians who filed tax returns by decreasing their income were never shared by the Election Commission of Pakistan with the FBR but now tax notices will be issued to TV anchors very soon.
When contacted, spokesperson for FBR Riffat Shaheen Kazi confirmed that tax notices to TV anchors and showbiz personalities would be served. “The sending of notices is in the process and will be dispatched soon,” she added. However, she showed reluctance to disclose the names of those who would be served notices.
Official sources in the FBR said that the Directorate General Intelligence and Investigation Wing of FBR has prepared tax profiles of renowned TV anchors and showbiz celebrities and dispatched them to the respective Regional Taxpayers Offices (RTOs) across the country and notices would be sent anytime in the near future.
Director General Intelligence and Investigation (DG I&I) of Inland Revenue Service (IRS) of FBR Ansar Javed told The News last week that the FBR was not targeting any specific group or profession but all those who do not pay taxes or paid less than their income would be served notices.
Citing an example, he said that the FBR found that doctors with the biggest private practices in Lahore did not exist on the list of taxpayers so they would be served notices but this would be twisted and the impression created that FBR was cracking down against the whole medical community.
Ansar Javed said the FBR found that there were certain personalities in the media as well as from showbiz, including renowned singers, drama writers and others, who do not pay their due taxes and the law of the land would now take its due course.
Sources said that the Intelligence and Investigation wing of IRS conducted in-depth analysis and found that around 10 renowned TV anchors were not paying due taxes fully.For example, they found that there was one TV anchor who owned two houses in the US but this was never shown in tax returns. There was another renowned TV anchor who was running a media consultancy firm but it was never shown up in tax returns. Another TV anchor authored books but never showed royalty in income tax returns.
The official said that the competent authority allowed them to move ahead to serve tax notices to TV anchors and showbiz personalities. The tax profiles were prepared with thorough investigation and sent to respective RTOs and now it would be ensured that the law of land would take its course.
The FBR had identified 10 categories of “prominent Pakistanis” including parliamentarians, generals, judges, lawyers, sport stars, artists, journalists, bureaucrats and doctors for evading taxes and concealing their income. But so far cricketers are the only category who have been served tax notices.
The campaign was already launched from cricketers — as done in India — to ensure maximum impact, said the official, adding that there were four wealthy cricketers who did not even have National Tax Number (NTN). There have been same cases in other areas as well where people do not have NTN. The 22 cricketers who were served tax notices include stars like Pakistan team captain Misbahul Haq, Shahid Afridi, Umar Akmal, Wahab Riaz, Taufeeq Omer and Azhar Ali, the sources said.
When contacted, FBR’s Member Inland Revenue Service (IRS) Shahid Hussain Asad said I&I wing gathered information but it was not advisable to target any specific group or profession. He said such efforts failed to yield results and cited his own experience when he tried to fix contractors in Lahore during the tenure of PM Mohammad Khan Junejo.