Pakistan punishes tax dodgers with new measures to ensure telcos cut off their mobile phones

Already doxxed and ordered disconnection for half a million of its own citizens suspected of not paying their share

Pakistan has outlined measures to punish tax evaders by cutting off their mobile phone.

The country has already taken the extraordinary step of naming over 506,000 of its citizens whom local authorities believe have not filed taxes, listing the numbers associated with SIM cards they're thought to use, and ordering those SIMs be disabled until their tax affairs are in order.

That list of citizens was published in April 2024 and is available on the public internet in an 8,737-page PDF to which The Register chooses not to link. While Pakistan's government may be happy doxxing its citizens, it's not our place to join in.

Pakistan's list includes an order that the nation's Telecommunication Authority and all local carriers must ensure the listed SIMs are blocked.

The nation's budget, announced yesterday by finance minister senator Muhammad Aurangzeb, went even further – with a plan for fines of one hundred million rupees ($358,000) for carriers that don't block SIMs of suspected "non-filers" of tax info.

The budget also added a provision to increase withholding taxes on the use of mobile phones from 15 percent to 75 percent for those who have failed to get their affairs in order.

Another initiative in the budget calls for increased digitization of government operations – in part to improve the ability to collect taxes. Readers may remember that in 2021 The Register reported outages at Pakistan's Federal Board of Revenue caused by a botched migration project, and that the agency admitted some of its software may not be licensed or supported.

Wider adoption of point-of-sale devices also rated a mention – to facilitate collection of more sales tax.

Moves against those who don’t file taxes are motivated by a desire to increase the revenue flowing to Pakistan's government. The nation is heavily in debt to the International Monetary Fund, which has sought reforms the org believes will stabilize the economy and spur growth. ®

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