Guess who?: PTI minister availed himself of tax amnesty scheme in PML-N regime

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Shafaqna Pakistan:A key member of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and sitting federal minister had availed himself of whitening of black money scheme (Tax Amnesty Scheme 2018) during the PML-N govt and paid Rs5.8 million tax against five foreign properties worth Rs194 million in the United Kingdom, Dubai and Malaysia, official documents reveal.

The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) on Thursday briefed the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Finance about the two tax amnesty schemes introduced by PTI and PML-N during their respective eras.

The committee was informed that there were a few politicians among the beneficiaries who availed themselves of the whitening of black money scheme (Tax Amnesty Scheme). The incumbent and previous governments gave away tax relief worth Rs61.4 billion to 191 billionaires.

The committee, however, was not provided the names of those beneficiaries of the amnesty schemes.

It is worth mentioning that the worthy minister, a resident of Karachi, has a fondness for luxury/ sports cars and bikes. The minister has been seen with a gun during some incidents. When a foreign consulate was attacked by terrorists in Karachi, the minister reached there with a gun in his hand. The minister often appears in TV talk shows and talks about water conservation and dams.

According to the documents a copy of which is available with the News, the federal minister declared five properties to avail himself of the tax amnesty scheme 2018 introduced by PML-N government. These properties include Flat 177, Quadrangle Tower, Cambridge Square, London W2 2PJ, Flat 2, 292 Elgin Avenue, London W9 1JS, Flat 4, 19-20, Hyde Park Place, London W2 2LP, Atlantic Towers Apartment, No 306 Dubai Marina, Dubai and L17, 123 & L17, 125 Resort Suits at Pyramid Tower, Sunway Resort Hotel SDN BHD. The total value of these five properties has been shown Rs194,187,000. By paying 3 percent tax on these properties, the federal minister paid Rs5,825,610 to the tax authorities under tax amnesty scheme 2018.

The properties in question were declared for the first time by the federal minister in his nomination papers for the general elections 2018. However, a renowned UK-based website that deals with the sale and purchase of properties (zoopla.co.uk) shows that the flats owned by the federal minister were last sold in 2007 and 2008, which means the minister possessed these properties since 2007-08 but he kept them hidden from the tax authorities in Pakistan. He declared these properties only when he decided to contest the elections and that too by availing himself of the whitening of black money scheme (Tax Amnesty Scheme).

As per the nomination papers of the federal minister, the five properties are located in United Kingdom, Dubai and Malaysia. The total worth of these properties declared by the minister in his tax documents is Rs194,187,000. However, the UK-based property website shows that one of the properties mentioned by federal minister e.g. Flat 4, 19-20, Hyde Park Place, London W2 2LP currently values £1,409,000.

According to tax experts, “If we calculate the value of this property in Pak rupee in May 2018 at the time of availing the amnesty scheme then it was worth Rs219, 804,000 (£1,409,000 x Rs156) which means only a single property of the federal minister valued more than the total amount declared by him in his tax amnesty scheme. This reflects that the minister has concealed the facts and under declared the value of his properties to evade tax.

The documents further show that the said minister was registered as a taxpayer in Pakistan in 2004. However, his online tax record from 2007 to 2013 shows zero income tax. Similarly, the FBR annual taxpayers directories which are publically available on the revenue board’s official website shows that he paid zero tax in the fiscal year 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015. The FBR directory for fiscal year 2016 shows that the said minister paid Rs480,904 income tax and mentioned stock exchange as the source of his income. Similarly, he paid Rs4,090,197 (Rs4.09 million) in 2017 whereas his source of income was stock exchange.

It is pertinent to mention here that the federal minister has been resident of Pakistan from 2010 till to date. The tax experts believe, “If it is true that the said minister has been resident of Pakistan from 2010 onward then he is bound to pay his taxes on his worldwide income regardless of where it is received. He is bound to declare his worldwide properties in his tax returns. If he has not declared or concealed his assets, he has cheated the tax authorities and committed the offence of tax evasion. The minister’s tax record also doesn’t reflect any amount sent outside Pakistan. This shows he laundered the money to buy flats in UK and other countries through illegal channels”.

Earlier this year, this scribe had contacted the said federal minister and sent him a detailed questionnaire about his foreign properties but he gave no response to any of the query.

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