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ISLAMABAD: The Federal Tax Ombudsman (FTO) on Thursday directed the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to take action against big retailers involved in sales tax evasion through non-issuance of verifiable tax invoices. In this regard, the FTO has issued instructions to the FBR to enforce effective monitoring and enforcement mechanism plugging all loopholes in the point of sale (POS) regime.

The FTO’s recommendations were made while conducting a complaint lodged against FBR’s negligence and inefficiency in the point of sales. The complainant pointed out a few post-paid tax transaction receipts which were not verified.

Besides, in POS the tax was being charged on eatables too despite being non-scheduled items as per price control Act 1977, the complainant further averred. Not only was the tax illegally being charged, it was not being paid into government exchequer, as well. The complainant believed that it was the prime responsibility of FBR to plug loopholes in tax collection.

The hearing was attended by Chief POS FBR, Chairman PRAL, and Second Secretary IT, FBR and the complainant. The representatives of FBR/ PRAL/ RTO stated that system up-gradation is an ongoing process which PRAL is already doing. Its enforcement is responsibility of field formations which need to be more vigilant whereas, secretary POS informed that the points raised by the complainant regarding post-paid vs. prepaid tax system are a policy issue and cannot be commented upon by the FBR.

However, it has been observed that after putting in place a system of post-paid tax by PRAL, FBR could not train and motivate its field officers to monitor and enforce system effectively. The FBR’s statement that procedure for tier–1 retailers had been introduced, without reporting incidents of enforcement of such rules, was mere eye wash, the FTO observed.

Mere installation of a system or rolling out defective software was not enough unless effective and efficient monitoring and enforcement follow-up was not put in practice; the FBR’s negligence in enforcing the POS system was thus obvious.

Federal Tax Ombudsman had further directed FBR to evolve an efficient mechanism in POS regime; a list of credible authorized vendors for sale/ installation of software should be published.

Dr Jah also recommended that all Chief Commissioners must ensure that the registered and functional QR code must be visible in all the invoices and also directed I&II-R to trace and proceed against Tier-1 retailers who were found involved in tax evasion through non-issuance of verifiable tax invoices.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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