Revised wealth statement form provides loophole to hide overseas assets

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ISLAMABAD: Revisions made in the wealth statement form a year back have decreased the disclosure requirements for individuals having offshore assets and would impact the efforts to address tax evasion.

The revised wealth statement form has segregated disclosure requirements for assets held by taxpayers within the country and overseas, reported Express Tribune.

These revisions to the wealth statement form were instituted by the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) in December 2016 which it redeclared in the version published in September 2017 for tax year 2017.

In the old form, taxpayers needed to provide details of their overseas assets held under each section and share its full details.

The old form required to clearly mention type of moveable and immoveable property held within the country and overseas including sharing of small details like the type of property and the full address.

Serial number 15 of the old form required the taxpayer to provide full details of their total assets held within and outside Pakistan.

In the revised wealth statement form, serial number 15 requirement has been changed to limit “Total Assets inside Pakistan” and a separate serial number 16 has been added to mention assets held overseas.

The new serial number 16 would allow taxpayers to share details of overseas assets in lump sum form. According to sources, there would be no need to provide details of the type of property, asset and their locations.

Also, an FBR official concurred that the choice in full disclosure of overseas assets including particulars could be abused by the taxpayer.

He highlighted FBR’s power couldn’t be restricted from asking about the source of income, if the asset gets highlighted in a third-party report like OECD.