The tax department is going to become more data rich as valuable information on Pakistani nationals with residence in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has arrived. This might be bad news for the filthy rich lot which has stashed its ill-gotten money in Gulf in return for residency rights. The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has obtained data from the Dubai Land Department (DLD) after a three-day (Oct 8-10) meeting in Dubai. Now, the task of data mining is left with FBR’s international taxes wing to reach the addresses with fresh notices for tax collection. Apart from residency rights, data about another lot – iqama holders (work permit) – has yet to come . The UAE is a known destination for foreign nationals to get work permit in return for investment.
The issue of stashing capital in Gulf countries gained the limelight during the peak season of suo motu in the time of retired chief justice Saqib Nisar. The Federal Investigation Agency provided valuable data on Pakistanis’ investment in the UAE to the FBR but the board worked only on 20-30 cases and recovered Rs400 million. In one such case, Prime Minister Imran Khan’s sister Aleema Khanum paid Rs29.4 million as fine for concealing her UAE property. With the retirement of Justice Nisar, the issue was buried in files until the landing of fresh data. FBR sources say only those cases where tax evasion is found would be pursued. The UAE is home to tens of thousands of Pakistanis who have invested their time and resources in the region. Their valuable contribution in the shape of remittances has kept our economy stable. The FBR will have to tread with caution without causing undue anxiety for the expatriates. Only those with illicit money should see the wrath of the law.
The recent development stems from an agreement signed by Pakistan and the UAE in 1993 for avoidance of double taxation and prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes. Both countries keep exchanging information under the OECD-Multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters. *