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LAHORE: Federal Tax Ombudsman Dr Asif Mahmood Jah on Monday has said that the system is being made more effective and efficient for the facilitation and immediate redressal of the taxpayer’s complaints.

He was speaking at a meeting at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce & Industry. LCCI President Mian Nauman Kabir, Senior Vice President Mian Rehman Aziz Chan and Vice President Haris Ateeq also spoke on the occasion.

Dr Asif Mahmood Jah said that four new regional offices have been established in Sialkot, Sargodha, Abbotabad and Sukkur to facilitate the business community while a portal of FTO is also being launched on the pattern of Prime Minister’s portal. He said that a helpline is also being established while the people can forward their complaints through WhatsApp as well. He said that the complaint system is being integrated with WeBoc.

He said that a Help Desk will be established in the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry while a facilitation desk has already been established at Lahore Airport to facilitate the taxpayers.

The FTO said that actions are being taken against high ranked officers to make the things transparent. He said that the ultimate objective of FTO is to facilitate the taxpayers.

LCCI President Mian Nauman Kabir said that the business community is well aware of the importance of Federal Tax Ombudsman for the disposal of complaints of tax maladministration and rectifying any unfairness done to the taxpayers by the Federal Board of Revenue. He said that FTO office can play an important role in curtailing the trust deficit between the Tax Authorities and the Business Community.

The LCCI President said that the majority of cases in Federal Tax Ombudsman Office are related to wilful errors in determination of Refunds and delays in Refund payments etc. He said that an announcement in this regard has already been made in the Federal Budget 2021-22, where Government has promised to introduce a centralized automated refund system with no requirement for application and verification.

He recommended that implementation on this system should be expedited so that businessmen do not have to wait long for receiving tax refunds. It will certainly help in curtailing the present workload of your office and at the same time easing out the liquidity position of the business community who are already going through very tough times.

He said that FTO is an important institution for the businesses which face a variety of problems with tax authorities. These problems include receiving repeated tax notices even after the lapse of legally stipulated time, prolonged hearings in cases involving assessment of income or valuation of goods and coercive methods of tax recovery in cases where default in payment of tax or duty is not apparent from record.

The LCCI President further stated that the Businesses also have to face irregularities with respect to the systems WeBOC and PRAL. At times, due to the unsupportive attitude of tax authorities, delays are observed in issuance of certain letters required to complete a formality. We would also like to know more about your Online Complaint system which must be publicized to encourage more taxpayers to avail the services of your good office.

“It has been observed in the past that there is an issue of swift implementation of the decisions made by Federal Tax Ombudsman Office. Quite often, delays have been observed in compliance of the decisions by various Tax Officials. It is therefore recommended that the implementation mechanism should be strengthened and made more efficient,” he said.

He said that whenever the representatives of Tax Authorities are called by Federal Tax Ombudsman office in cases regarding business community, these officials resort to delaying tactics. The strengthening of implementation mechanism as mentioned in the previous point will also help to address this issue.

Mian Nauman Kabir said that the senior tax lawyers and consultants better understand the dynamics of businesses as compared to Tax officials who mostly go by the book. I would like to suggest that The Federal Tax Ombudsman Office should consult the renowned tax lawyers and consultants on regular basis to get a firsthand knowledge about the relevant issues of business community.

They will help the Federal Tax Ombudsman Office to settle down tax related matters and at the same time will be in a good position to make better input to policy makers for the formulation of good policies.

He assured his full support and cooperation to the FTO in arranging seminars and awareness sessions in collaboration with your Office in the premises of Lahore Chamber so that our members get aware about utilizing the services of FTO office for solving their complaints against tax authority.

The LCCI President said that being the member of Advisory Board of Federal Tax Ombudsman, he will contribute to the best of knowledge and experience in the meetings of Advisory Board.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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