Following the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority’s (PTA) rejection, the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) is moving forward with plans to enforce the blocking of SIMs associated with 506,671 non-filers by May 15, 2024.

A senior FBR official informed NetMag that despite PTA’s stance, the FBR will convene an emergency meeting with all mobile operators to ensure compliance with blocking these SIMs by the specified deadline or face legal consequences.

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The FBR emphasized that the PTA’s refusal holds no legal weight in this matter, and cellular companies are mandated to carry out the SIM blockages. The FBR’s directive is based on Income Tax General Order No. 01 of 2024, which aims to enforce tax return filing by individuals not on the active taxpayers list but required to file for tax year 2023 under the Income Tax Ordinance 2001.

Notably, the PTA has opposed the SIM blockage, citing technical incompatibility with their systems. The PTA clarified that legally, they are not obligated to block SIMs, and the Income Tax Ordinance 2021 does not apply to their operations. They cautioned that mass SIM blocking could impede digitalization, harm the telecom economy, and deter foreign investment in the sector. Furthermore, PTA warned of potential disruptions to banking transactions, e-commerce, and mobile financial services.

Individuals identified as non-filers can verify their status from the list specified in Income Tax General Order No. 01 of 2024 on the FBR’s website. SIMs linked to these individuals will remain blocked until restored by the FBR or the relevant Commissioner of Inland Revenue.

The FBR has directed both the PTA and telecom operators to ensure immediate compliance with the Income Tax General Order, with a mandatory compliance report due to the FBR by May 15, 2024.

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