The lawyers appearing for senior tax professional Raja Nihal Hettiarachchi who petitioned the proposed Inland Revenue Bill on Monday made submission in court proposing amendments to the bill, so that the clauses concerned would no longer be inconsistent with the Articles of the Constitution.
Accordingly, the Supreme Court was informed that key changes to Clauses, No. 47 and No. 40 would make the bill more accommodative for tax, audit, and financial professionals to carry out their services in a manner that would not hold them criminally liable for disclosures held back by the client.
A submission was made to amend clause No. 47 to ‘Any person who fraudulently;
(a) ‘Prepares any document or information, or (b) certifies a document.’
Meanwhile the Clause No. 40 has been proposed to be amended to, ‘When a return or part of a return was prepared for a payment by any person, including an approved accountant, such person shall certify separately specifying the extent to which he was involved in the preparation of such return and specify the documents examined by him and the information relied upon by him.
Such certification shall be submitted along with the tax return and the said certification shall be deemed to be part and parcel of the said tax return.”
The proposed bill was petitioned against by Chartered Accountant Hettiarachchi as clause No. 47 imposed a professional duty on any auditor, tax practitioner, tax advisor or approved accountant vis-à-vis the Commissioner General of Inland Revenue.
The proposed bill, if passed unamended would hold the auditor, practitioner, and advisor criminally liable for any disclosures found after the filing.
An offense under the Act, and on conviction after summary trial before a Magistrate, will be liable to a fine not exceeding Rs.1 million or to imprisonment of either description for a term not exceeding six months or for a prohibition order preventing him from practicing in such capacity. Meanwhile, the Clause No. 40, according to the proposed bill, says a full-time employee of the taxpayer to disclaim, evade all responsibility, and liability for the contents of the return, whilst imposing on every other person who ‘prepared, filled or assisted to prepare or fill for a payment’ the return or part of the return responsibility for same.
The case will be taken up again today for a fresh round of deliberations.