Disclose Assets or Face Imprisonment: Pakistan Warns Its Expatriates

Pakistani citizens living in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) were warned by Islamabad to reveal their ‘hidden’ assets by June 30 to avoid penalties and imprisonment. All Pakistanis are required to declare their concealed assets under the new tax amnesty scheme called the Assets Declaration Scheme launched by the PTI government on May 15.

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Although overseas Pakistanis are exempted from paying any taxes on their income abroad, they are required to declare their assets if they cannot prove that they were bought with legal resources.

They will also have to declare all their assets, including properties, businesses and bank accounts they have in Pakistan if they are generating income from them. The wealth that remains undeclared after the deadline would be confiscated and defaulters could also face prison time, Gulf News reported.

“If overseas Pakistanis can prove that the property they own in Pakistan was bought with legally remitted money or the bank account they have in any Pakistani bank has money sent through legal banking channels, they do not need to worry as they are exempted from declaring them and they do not need to pay any taxes,” Dr Mohammad Ashfaq Ahmad, Director General (International Taxes) at the Federal Board of Revenue, told the Pakistani diaspora at the Pakistan Consulate General in Dubai.

The FBR official reportedly handled harsh questions from the community members tactfully. Many of them raised the concern that they do not have proof of all their money remitted to Pakistan and hence they are unable to proof the money trail despite the fact that they have been living abroad for decades.

Dr Ashfaq said that bank accounts and properties whose ownership cannot be backed must be declared at all cost. “It would be your last chance to whiten your ‘hidden’ money and assets as there will be no more amnesty after June 30,” he added.

The FBR official said the government would freeze the undeclared accounts, and also impose heavy penalties on properties whose money trail cannot be traced. Violators may also face imprisonment of up to five years.

Emphasising the importance of the government’s offer, he said it is a golden chance to whiten money earned through unknown sources “as there is now no hiding place in the world and there are no tax havens.”

Currently, more than 28 countries including the UAE exchange information with Pakistan regarding assets, said Dr Ashfaq, adding that the government would sign agreements with 72 more countries this and then extend it to 104 countries next year. “It means no one can hide wealth anywhere in the world.”

He, however, advised the expatriates to launch a complaint with the FBR in case they are harassed by any government official in Pakistan.

This article originally appeared in Gulf News