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Matters adjudicated by courts: FBR maintains no data bank

LAHORE: The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has maintained no data bank of tax matters adjudicated upon in the courts...
Published December 10, 2022
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LAHORE: The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has maintained that no data bank of tax matters adjudicated upon in the courts of law, said sources. They said the Board was not maintaining data bank of court decisions interpreting different provisions of the applicable law and of the judgments challenged in courts.

Accordingly, they said, both the departmental representatives as well as legal councils are found cutting sorry figures as and when the courts inquire about the fact. “They are often unaware whether a particular decision was challenged, and if so, what was the outcome of the same,” they added.

The sources said the Board had responded one such inquiry from the superior court recently, pointing out that the FBR was in the process of devising an online litigation management system (LMS). The architecture of the system is complete and it would be made available to the Inland Revenue (IR) field formations in due course of time and relevant data would start uploading subsequently.

Moreover, the LMS would also have data of pending cases with detail of each stage of litigation, which would be fully functional after development of the software module and feeding of historical data of decided cases and judgments of courts.

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However, the sources have pointed out that the Board had not attended to the shortcomings till date, which is jeopardising not only the Board’s interest but also resulting in wastage of court’s time. The FBR constitutes the economic and financial backbone of the country but by not maintaining a data bank of its cases, the working of its own officers is hampered and that of the tribunals and the courts which is unacceptable in this age of technology.

The existing four-tier tax appellate system is already under severe criticism from tax experts. When contacted, leading taxonomist Dr Ikramul Haq said the problems faced by taxpayers in appeals/references speak volumes of ineffectiveness of various judicial forums that have been assigned the statutory obligations to safeguard them against unjust imposition of taxes. While stressing on restructuring the existing system, he said, even the Revenue authorities are unhappy with it.

Dr Haq said there should be a two-tier tax appellate system with two appeals, followed by final adjudication at the Supreme Court level in case any substantial question of law needs consideration. He said it would be helpful in achieving uniformity of decisions since at present high courts in different provinces sometimes differ on identical questions of law and it takes years for final authoritative pronouncement by the Supreme Court. The two-tier tax justice system can ensure expeditious settlement of tax disputes, preferably within a year’s time of first order, he added.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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