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FBR introduces new tax return forms for tax year 2024

ISLAMABAD: The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has introduced new return forms for salaried individuals, associations of persons (AoPs), companies, and business individuals for the tax year 2024.

The electronic copies of these returns were announced through SRO949 of 2024, released on Thursday. This notification also includes amendments to the income tax rules.

Additionally, through another notification, SRO0950, the FBR issued manual income tax return forms for individuals for the tax year 2024, with further amendments to the income tax rules.

210,000 SIMs Blocked

On Thursday, the FBR reported that it has blocked 210,000 SIM cards of users who failed to file tax returns as part of an effort to widen the revenue bracket.

  • Only 5.2 million out of Pakistan’s over 240 million population filed income tax returns in 2022.
  • The FBR issued the directive in April, instructing the telecommunications authority to block 210,000 SIM cards, with 62,000 of them later restored upon tax payment.
  • “We have unblocked the SIMs of those who have paid their taxes,” FBR public relations official Bakhtiar Muhammad said.
  • “Nobody voluntarily comes up and pays taxes. We have to make ways for the people to pay their taxes.”
  • Importantly, Pakistan has over 192 million cellphone subscribers and four telecommunications service providers. SIM cards in Pakistan must be registered with a national identity number, often used for multiple connections.
  • An official from one of the telecommunications companies expressed concerns: “Access to telecom services is a basic human right and essential for many other fundamental services, including access to information, education, and emergency services. We are in dialogue with the authorities, convincing them to use technology to help increase tax collection, as abrupt measures could disrupt the provision of these critical services.”
  • Meanwhile, Fareiha Aziz, a digital rights activist, criticized the move: “This is an absurd move. Not everyone who has SIMs earns enough to fall under the tax-paying category. People’s livelihoods are tied to their phones; this is an overreach.”
  • The telecommunications companies warned in a letter to the Ministry of Information Technology in June that the new tax measures against non-tax filing cellphone users were “impractical” and “non-workable,” potentially deterring foreign investment.

Pakistan continues to struggle with increasing its revenue base due to a largely undocumented economy.

The government has sought additional loans from the International Monetary Fund, which insists that Islamabad mobilize more of its own resources.

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I am an experienced writer, analyst, and author. My exposure in English journalism spans more than 28 years. In the past, I have been working with daily The Muslim (Lahore Bureau), daily Business Recorder (Lahore/Islamabad Bureaus), Daily Times, Islamabad, daily The Nation (Lahore and Karachi). With daily The Nation, I have served as Resident Editor, Karachi. Since 2009, I have been working as a Freelance Writer/Editor for American organizations.

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