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LAHORE: As many as 5000 tax complaints have been disposed of by the office of Federal Tax Ombudsman (FTO) during the first 10 months of the current calendar year, said sources.

They said the FTO have received some 5500 tax complaints during the period, out of which 5000 have been disposed of till date. These complaints included fresh ones, own motions and informal ones during this period. The office of FTO had received 346 complaints in January, followed by 378 in February, 495 in March, 565 in April, 426 in May, 924 in June, 608 in July, 631 in August, 517 in September and 604 in October this year.

According to the sources, FTO Dr Asif Mahmood Jah will share the performance of his office during his interaction with President Arif Alvi tomorrow. Dr Alvi will address an awareness programme as well.

They said the FTO had been pursuing the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) in resolving the refund cases of taxpayers. He got processed refund cases worth Rs8499.11 million and the same were sanction by the Board. The disposal time of complaints has also been reduced to 57.29 days.

Meanwhile, the office of FTO has also launched mobile phone application, FTO portal, digital SMS, FTO YouTube channel, four additional regional offices at Abbotabad, Sargodha, Sukkur, and Sialkot to enhance the outreach of the organization to provide justice to taxpayers of those areas against maladministration of respective tax authorities.

It has also safeguarded the public exchequer by detecting illegal refund claims through own motion investigations as well as inspection of the offices of FBR. In a recent case, he said, he had proposed strict disciplinary/criminal action against senior officers of the Board for their involvement in issuance of illegal refund amounting to Rs123.4 million to a foreign company.

The FTO has also engaged PIDE on the merger of Alternate Dispute Resolution Committees (ADRCs) with his office to expedite resolution of complaints of taxpayers in future and significant developments are likely to take place ahead.

It may be noted that the FTO 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.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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