Taxmen have detected a number of forged tax clearance certificates at field-level tax offices that were prepared with the support of vested quarters including tax practitioners and supporting tax officials, tax officials said.
The government has made it mandatory for taxpayers to submit tax clearance certificates for obtaining different services including visa.
But these fake tax clearance certificates have showed an inflated and wrong amount of tax payments.
Expressing concern over the issue, the National Board of Revenue (NBR) in its board meeting has decided to instruct all income tax officials to make a cautious move on issuance of TINs and tax clearance certificates.
Tax zone-7 has recently detected some 10 fake tax certificates that were placed for obtaining arms licences and visas.
Officials said many of the tax offices have also found a number of forged tax clearance certificates that were prepared on demand of taxpayers.
The certificates were submitted in different places with an inflated amount of tax payments. Having a certain level of income in the certificates is mandatory for obtaining services.
Tax commissioner Meftha Uddin Ahmed said the authority concerned should deal with the issue seriously. "It is a criminal offence. The cases could be handled by the law enforcers," he added.
The majority of the fake certificates were produced at different embassies and offices of the local administration, he added.
After the detection of the forged tax certificates, the tax zone sought permission from the revenue board to file cases against the taxpayers.
However, taxmen can file cases only against fake TIN certificates under Section165 (a) of the Income Tax Ordinance-1984, but not against fake tax clearance certificates.
According to a report placed by the tax zone, the Taxpayers Identification Numbers (TINs) of those forged tax clearance certificate-holders were found correct.
"The taxmen can file cases against the taxpayers for providing wrong information to them, but Section 165 (a) has a provision of punishment for producing fake TINs, but not for submitting fake tax clearance certificates," said income tax member (legal and enforcement) Md Serajul Islam.
Punishment for the offence should be meted out by the office concerned or entities where the forged certificates were placed, he added.
Taxmen are not allowed to file cases under the relevant section against the taxpayers who have furnished those counterfeit certificates.
Due to such limitations, the tax office concerned requested the deputy commissioner (DC) of local administration for taking action against a person who obtained arms licence by showing fake tax clearance certificate as it is a criminal offence.
However, the income tax authority is bound to keep the taxpayers' information secret.
Officials said filing cases by the DC would be difficult unless the taxmen disclose taxpayers' information to the local administration.
Mr Meftha said a vested quarters are involved with such malpractice tarnishing the image of the country's tax administration.
The tax offices detected the fake certificates after the local administration and embassies sent those to the tax authority for verification.
Tax officials said they can request the authority concerned to file cases against the persons who placed forged certificates, but punitive action should be taken in the places where offences were committed.