CBR may refer tax crime cases to FIA

ISLAMABAD (February 27 2005): The Board-in-Council on Saturday decided that the Central Board of Revenue (CBR) may refer major cases of tax-related crimes, involving huge amount of revenue, to the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), but the Board will decide which case has to be given to FIA. Moreover, taking action on the presentations of Member Customs and Member Direct Taxes, the CBR also constituted a committee comprising senior tax officials to review the new reward rules. The purpose is to check the discretionary powers of tax officials under the new rewards system.

These decisions were taken by the Board-in-Council headed by CBR Chairman Abdullah Yusuf here on Saturday. All line and private members attended the meeting.

After the meeting, officials told Business Recorder that CBR is empowered to give cases for investigation to any federal agency under tax laws. The CBR has decided to refer cases for investigation to FIA keeping in view the scope of case and amount of evasion. The tax authorities will see which cases have to be referred to FIA.

Commenting on the decision, a tax consultant opined that by taking this decision, the CBR has shown its inability to cope with unscrupulous/fraudulent and mischievous taxpayers. It has once again conceded its weak position that the present tax machinery is not capable to enforce the writ of law. Transferring of revenue yielding cases to FIA's non-technical people would open another pandora's box for corruption by the concerned enforcement officers.

Tax consultants expressed surprise that the decision has been taken at a time when the Revenue Board, under the leadership of a professional chairman, has successfully been propagating the taxpayer-friendly regime.

All the statutes administered by CBR contain deterrent penal provisions including prosecution of defaulters. If the administrative machinery of CBR is not capable enough to press into service theses provisions, it creates ample justifications for the abolition of entire Revenue Board, they said.

They claimed that the decision taken by the Board-in-Council was a measure which exposed the tall claim of CBR stalwarts to the effect that CBR has become an efficient, modern and taxpayer-friendly organisation, consequent to reforms.

Officials said that the Board-in-Council took serious notice of the existing rewards rules, which are neither transparent nor provide equivalent opportunity to all tax officials to claim rewards. It was noted with concern that Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has raised audit objections on the existing reward rules. Moreover, Federal Tax Ombudsman (FTO) has also given directives to CBR to devise transparent rewards rules replacing the existing ones.

During the presentation, Member Direct Taxes Salman Nabi proposed that the salary structure of CBR employees should be improved so that the authorities should sanction as minimum reward as possible.

The Board-in-Council constituted a three-member committee, including officials from customs, income tax and Human Resource Management (HRM) wing. The committee will review the new reward rules.

Officials said that the Board-in-Council observed that those tax officials who are claiming rewards would continue to file their claims. Furthermore, the use of secret funds should be minimised, replacing with transparent reward rules in view of the best international practices.

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