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LAHORE: Over 40 percent of the complaints were either rejected by the Federal Tax Ombudsman (FTO) or withdrawn by the complainants during the first three months of 2022, said sources.

According to the data, the FTO had disposed of a total of 899 complaints in three months of 2022 out of which 261 were rejected and another 102 were withdrawn by the complainants during the same period. Meanwhile, it had accepted 517 complaints and made recommendations to the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) for the implementation of decisions.

During this period, 1192 fresh complaints had been filed by the taxpayers with FTO Secretariat while 13 fresh own motion cases had been registered with the disposal of 63 own motions during this period.

It may be noted that the FTO Dr Asif Mahmood Jah has been playing a pivotal role in redressal of complaints and grievances in a short span of time. He has recently set up an advisory committee consisting of honorary positions of Coordinator (Business Liaison) in the Federal Tax Ombudsman Offices at Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar, Quetta, Gujranwala, Multan, Faisalabad, Sialkot, Abbottabad, Sargodha and Sukkur. They would present taxpayers problems, issues, conflicts and concerns to the respective advisors in FTO Office and act proactively for immediate redressal of the same. This would also be instrumental in resolving key tax issues of business community and will act as bridge between traders, trade bodies and FTO for quick redressal of the genuine problems faced by the traders across the country.

However, the FTO has taken no action against the FBR for carrying out a practice of creating fake demands to collect taxes coercively by its field formations. The committee members had pointed out in a recent meeting that the Board had shifted the responsibility of verified identity card from buyers to sellers in the last mini budget to charge 3 percent extra tax from non-registered buyers. Earlier, it was the responsibility of buyers to provide a verified ID card, they added.

The committee members registered their protest over the creation of extra tax demands by the field formations against their members as and when they resist to the imposition of unfair tax liability. They urged the FTO to make part the wrongdoings of tax officials to their Annual Confidential Reports (ACRs) in order to check the practice of raising undue tax demands to coerce taxpayers. The FTO agreed with the proposal and asked the complainants to submit a written request for further action.

However, sources close to the FTO have confided to this scribe that no written complaint has been filed to the office so far. Accordingly, the FTO has not taken any concrete step to stop the Board from coercive measures against the taxpayers.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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