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ISLAMABAD: Federal Tax Ombudsman (FTO) orders to the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) “to issue a directive to all staff to reply to taxpayers letters within 10 days at the earliest,” a landmark order in favour of Pakistan’s taxpayers rights, has been violated by most of tax employees including senior officials, administering/adjudicating “Relevant legislation” under the FTO Ordinance, 2000.

Sources told Business Recorder here on Monday that in this regards Registrar FTO has been approached by a tax lawyer Waheed Shahzad Butt that legal position needs to be strictly enforced/implemented in its true letter and spirits and strict lawful action for its non-compliance against all delinquent FBR employees.

Explaining the provisions of the FTO Ordinance, 2000, tax lawyer Waheed Shahzad Butt told this correspondence that FTO in matters of contempt, exercises, mutatis mutandis, the powers of the Supreme Court as enunciated in Section-16, which confers upon the FTO the power to punish for contempt any person who “abuses, interferes with, impedes, imperils, or obstructs the process of the FTO in any way or disobeys any order of the FTO”. While IHC in Auditor General of Pakistan etc Vs Federal Tax Ombudsman (WP 1238/2013) has acknowledged the powers of FTO and states ““The pivotal question which requires determination is as to whether this Court while exercising constitutional jurisdiction under Article 199 of the Constitution can interfere or set-aside the action of the FTO initiated under section 16. FTO shall have the same powers mutatis mutandis, as the Hon’ble Supreme Court has to punish any person for its contempt. The power, being exercised by the FTO, is parallel to powers of the Hon’ble Apex Court and against the said action; remedy of appeal also lies before the Hon’ble Apex Court under section 16(2)”

Waheed added that it is of paramount public interest that the peoples of Pakistan, after obtaining an order from the FTO (Especially on the issue of Taxpayer’s rights), should not feel helpless or without any remedy when such order is flouted by the Revenue Division employees with predetermined mind to hoodwink the process of justice. As per record, to curb the mal-treatment in case of long silence from the Tax Employees (FBR Officials) against the correspondence made by the Taxpayers/Citizens, there is a landmark order in the field, issued by the FTO in C No. 524/2010, wherein it was categorically recommended by the Honorable FTO “Issue a directive to all staff to reply to taxpayers letters within 10 days at the earliest”. For the purposes of implementation, specific instructions were also issued by the FBR vide letter C.No.6 (23)/Coord/2011-29707-R dated March 03, 2011.

Unfortunately nobody in the FBR is willing to follow the unambiguous verdict and accept the taxpayer’s rights, what to talk about the attitude of tax employees working as CCIR, CIR, ADCIR, DCIR when senior officers representing FBR are least interested to follow the above landmark verdict and disregard even instructions issued by their parent agency (FBR), Waheed added.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021