US accuses Pakistan’s FBR of using pirated tax software

US officials blasted Pakistan’s Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) for using a pirated version of a software from a US company. The agency responsible for collecting Pakistan’s taxes said it was unaware of the situation because a vendor provides the software.

FBR accused of using pirated software by the US

According to multiple news outlets, Alice Wells told Pakistani officials that the FBR was using pirated software from a US company during her recent visit to the country. Wells is the deputy assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asian affairs.

The software the FBR was accused of using without paying for it is made by VMware. It’s used in the agency’s Web-based One Customs (WeBOC) site and for e-filing of income tax returns. VMware provides software and services for cloud computing and virtualization.

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Pakistan’s tax authority has reportedly removed the software from its e-file platform and is now reportedly seeking quotes to purchase the software to use it in WeBOC.

Pakistan’s tax authority provides clarification

In a statement posted on its website, the FBR provided some clarification on the issue. The agency said Pakistan Revenue Automation Ltd. (PRAL) provides services for it, the Punjab Revenue Authority, Sindh Revenue Board and other tax collecting agencies. The company has been using virtualization software for the services it provides. Some of the software it uses is open source and free, while other software is licensed.

PRAL was mostly using Hyper-V, but it was running other virtualization software on some of its machines to provide proof of concept. The goal was to determine whether the other software was more effective than the software currently being used. According to Pakistan’s tax authority, the final evaluations and recommendations have been made. The FBR plans to buy one two kinds of virtualization software “soon.”

The agency also plans to investigate the matter, adding that US officials only asked them to purchase the software. Pakistani officials decided to investigate the software on their own.