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LAHORE: The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has devised a new complaint redressal mechanism to address the complaints of taxpayers against corruption and rent-seeking.

According to the FBR sources, this new mechanism will hide the identity of the complainant by allaying his fears of any possible reaction by the officer or official against whom the complaint has been filed. The FBR has added that the important element of this new system is that all complaints would be received by Member (Inland Revenue-Operations) himself on an especially dedicated cell phone 345-5555507 which would be in his own possession, exclusively.

They said the complaints would be opened, acknowledged, and treated as per law in a highly confidential manner. The identity of the complainants would be immediately masked and encoded to safeguard them against any undue consequences.

The standard operating procedure (SOP) for lodging and handling of complaints against the IR field functionaries includes lodging of complaints by the complainant through a text message at the above-mentioned cell number on WhatsApp, preferably. In the WhatsApp text option, the complainant would identify himself by writing his name, address, CNIC, the case particulars, and his cell phone number. The complainant would write the name(s) of the official(s) or officer(s) against whom the complaint is directed along with his/their designation, place of posting, and any other particulars, if available.

According to the sources, the complaint must be supported by some evidence such as audio or video recording, text message exchanged with the FBR functionary, or any other documents, which could be attached with the text message, or subsequently sent by hard mail. If no such evidence is readily available, an affidavit on a legal paper, clearly spelling out the allegation and the person against whom the allegations are leveled would suffice.

Upon receipt of the complaint, a code number would be allotted to each complainant and his back-end identity data would be hidden beyond the access of field officers. This code number would help a complainant track progress on his complaint and the outcomes on it. Depending on the nature of the complaint and the evidence provided, the matter would be taken to a logical consequence in the shortest possible time. Non-specific, unsupported, or generalized complaints will not be processed.

Meanwhile, the FBR has clarified that this SOP is exclusively targeted to attack corruption and rent-seeking in the IR field formations, and not address complaints of routine nature.

Maladministration-related grievances pertaining to tax assessments, delay in processing or payment of refunds, or issuance of exemption certificates etc need to be brought to the notice of the chief commissioner concerned who have already been designated as Inland Revenue ombudspersons and assigned the task of redressing taxpayers' grievance in the quickest possible time.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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