Nearly 1,000 companies have been issued notice by the Inland Revenue Department (IRD) to pay up their tax arrears amounting to more than Rs 160 billion in six months or face seizure of bank accounts and property, Commissioner General Sepalika Chandrasekara said.

She told the Sunday Times that the arrears had been due up to the end of last year, and the companies had been given notice to pay the arrears in six months, without any extensions.

She said some of the companies had responded and agreed to the seizure of their properties, enabling the IRD to collect the arrears payments.

The Commissioner General said the companies that had defaulted on their tax payments were being summoned to the IRD to discuss the possibility of recovering the arrears.

She said that on the instructions from the Finance Ministry, they were following a strict procedure for collecting the arrears and that the maximum powers under the Inland Revenue Act would be imposed for the recovery.

Among the tax defaulters have been liquor companies, hotels and real estate firms.

The IRD has appointed an 11-member committee under a Deputy Commissioner General to collect the tax arrears.

Inland Revenue Service Union Secretary H.A.L. Udayasiri told the Sunday Times that among the defaulters were profit-making companies.

He said that in addition to the outstanding Rs 163 billion in tax arrears, there was another Rs 740 billion in tax dues, but cases were pending.

Mr. Udayasiri said the union was supporting the new system to seize properties and bank accounts as it was a faster way to recover the arrears.

He said they also had a court for tax matters to expedite the collection of arrears.

The IRD has been given a revenue collection target of Rs 2,024 billion for this year. Last year, a revenue target of Rs 1,553 billion was achieved, recording a 103 percent recovery. A Finance Ministry official said the IRD had been instructed to get strict on tax collections, making use of the IRD ACT.


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