Government order PTA and telecom companies to block SIM cards of more than 500,000 people who haven’t filed taxes

Amid Pakistan’s economic hurdles, the government has adopted a firm stance against tax evasion by instructing the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) and telecom firms to deactivate the mobile phone SIM cards of over 500,000 individuals who have failed to file their income tax returns.

These individuals, termed non-filers, possess taxable incomes but have overlooked their tax responsibilities. The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has publicly disclosed the identities of these non-filers, emphasizing its dedication to tax compliance. The FBR has clarified that SIM cards linked to non-filers can be reinstated upon filing their tax returns for the year 2023.

Additionally, the FBR has been granted authority to suspend utility services and deactivate SIM cards under Section 114B of the Income Tax Ordinance 2001. In a bid to broaden the tax base, district tax offices were established nationwide last year.

Conversations between the FBR and the PTA have also transpired to identify SIM cards associated with under-filers, with intentions to deactivate them by April 2024. Despite initially identifying two million potential tax evaders, telecom companies have voiced concerns, leading to the initial deactivation of only 0.5 million SIM cards.

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