Islamabad: The Chairman Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) Shabbar Zaidi has asked the chiefs of all banks in the country to collect and provide details of all the benami accounts. Such details are to be used for the documentation of the economy and control of tax evasion.
“We will appreciate your help [in providing] information about benami accounts within 14 days,” said the FBR Chairman in a letter addressed to the heads of banks.
Benami accounts are accounts whose holders and beneficiaries are different people. It helps in the concealment of the ownership of assets that are generally acquired through unfair means, defrauding creditors, and/or dodging tax collectors.
The Chairman had earlier asked all the banks to carry out an exercise seeking information from the account holders about mandated or benami properties within the banks’ system. He expressed hope that the banks would have gathered such information and would provide it to the FBR within 14 days. The tax collecting body also ensured the banks that any shared information will be kept confidential.
The Chairman’s letter to the banks also reads that the best approach to get this task done is mutual cooperation, voluntary compliance and close coordination between banks and the FBR. The latter has already made it clear that it does not intend to contact account holders directly “so that people’s trust in the FBR can be maintained”.
FBR believes that the number of benami accounts runs into hundreds of thousands.