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ISLAMABAD: In response to the judgment given by the Federal Tax Ombudsman (FTO), the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has allowed the aggrieved taxpayers who had paid their tax on whitening of assets in 2019 under the tax amnesty scheme to file their declarations by September 25th 2021.

Federal Tax Ombudsman (FTO) has appreciated the decision of Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and termed FBR's current decision a major relief to the 12,000 taxpayers who had deposited due tax under the Tax Amnesty Scheme (Assets Declaration Ordinance 2019) but were unable to upload their declarations on the last date due to the failure of the FBR's online system.

The FTO had initiated an own motion investigation and later issued a judgment recommending FBR to give relief to 12,000 + aggrieved taxpayers under the Assets Declaration Ordinance 2019. The Federal Tax Ombudsman in its finings concluded that the department had failed to ensure smooth functioning of its IT system to facilitate the prospective declarations to avail the Amnesty Scheme by uploading their declarations on the last date that amounted to incompetence and inefficiency on part of the FBR.

According to the findings of the FTO, inefficiency, negligence and incompetence of the Department officials in designing the system, making adequate arrangements and failure to give full effect to the provisions of the Ordinance amounted to maladministration.

This own motion investigation was initiated by Federal Tax Ombudsman on the complaint of delegation of office bearers of Pakistan Tax Bar Association. Similarly, during the hearing, the president of Pakistan Tax Bar Association argued that FBR's online system was non-responsive and choked and this fact was been confirmed by then FBR chairman Shabbar Zaidi statement on electronic media.

PTBA contended that FBR's contention and data regarding no fault in the system is not reliable as the declaration portal, being the first step to reach on the FBR's website was denied due to load of the system. PTBA provided to FTO the screenshots of the unavailability of access to the online system, which they had also provided to FBR a day after the last date.

However, against this judgment, of FTO, the FBR made representation to President of Pakistan Dr Arif Alvi but he rejected the stance of the FBR and upheld the decision taken by the FTO. Therefore In compliance of the FTO directive The Federal Board of Revenue on Friday took the decision of a special dispensation allowing filing of declarations under the Amnesty Scheme 2019 of the incumbent PTI government.

The FBR's relief will benefit over 12,000 taxpayers who, on their declared assets, had paid Rs2.6 billion taxes to the FBR in 2019. FBR system has been enabled for this purpose and all taxpayers can now file their declarations between Sept 10 and 25.Federal Tax Ombudsman has lauded the decision and stressed upon Pakistan Tax Bar Association to ensure filing of the declaration within the stipulated time limit so that genuine grievance is redressed and taxpayers can be facilitated?-PR

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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