Recently, FBR rolled out a Whistleblower program that could be used to report cases of tax evasion all across Pakistan. The Whistleblower program was to be hosted online, letting anyone with an internet connection submit details of any cases that they needed to report.
Such a measure would have given the tax collection authority a potent means to enhance the tax base of the country and find criminals evading the system.
FBR Whistleblower Program goes Offline
However, it seems that the Whistleblower Program has been taken offline from FBR’s website. You can check it here.
It is too early to tell whether the program has been taken down temporarily or is facing a technical glitch at FBR’s end.
But given the frantic discussions surrounding Panama Papers in the country for a month and counting, it is hard to discount the possibility of political pressure or intense lobbying by vested interests in this development. Both official and/or unofficial circles may have played a role in shutting down the program.
FBR’s online form for reporting tax evasion represented a step in the right direction. Seeing the abysmally low tax-to-GDP rate of 9% for Pakistan, such a measure could have served the interests of the country by providing information directly for FBR to investigate. After verifying the particulars, FBR could’ve brought tax evaders under the tax net.
In the interest of fairness, the potential of misuse of such a system is also immense, given the corruption of the Federal tax collecting body. One can envision a scenario where business rivals (or others) could’ve submitted fake details to make life hell at the hands of the tax man.
Given both the pros and cons of the system proposed by FBR, we hope that FBR’s Whistleblower program doesn’t go dark.