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LAHORE: Inordinate delay in changing the jurisdiction of taxpayers is tantamount to maladministration, said Federal Tax Ombudsman (FTO) Dr Asif Mahmood Jah.

He said taxpayers pay heavy price for reckless and irresponsible attitude of tax authorities and wait for years for redressal of their grievances which falls under the definition of maladministration as per the FTO Ordinance 2000.

According to him, the field formations of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) initiate probe and investigation of tax evasion and undisclosed assets without assessing their jurisdiction.

He said he had decided a tax matter in the recent past where a complainant filed a complaint against undue harassment by tax officials from the field formation of Sialkot. When a notice was served to the Regional Tax Office (RTO) Sialkot to submit reply, he contended that the NTN of the complainant shows that he is registered with RTO Lahore. Also, he informed the FTO that a letter was dispatched to the Secretary IR (Jurisdiction) FBR for transfer of the jurisdiction from RTO Lahore to RTO Sialkot. According to him, a number of reminders were also thrown to the competent authority but to no avail. The FTO said even his office had sent a letter to the concerned authority, which also remained unattended.

Accordingly, he said, he has passed an order that inordinate delay on the part of Secretary-IR (Jurisdiction) FBR in changing of jurisdiction from RTO Lahore to RTO Sialkot despite repeated letters, followed by reminders, is tantamount to maladministration. He has directed the FBR to call for explanation from Secretary-IR (Jurisdiction) FBR for his careless attitude and defiance to the FTO’s correspondence. Meanwhile, he has also directed the concerned secretary to comply with his direction and transfer the jurisdiction of the taxpayer.

The FTO said such inordinate and unnecessary delays were earning bad name for the FBR. Also, he said, this careless attitude results into undue hassle for taxpayers, as the field staff keeps twisting their arms to fleece them.

It may be noted that the reckless attitude can easily be observed during a visit to any field formation of the Board, as there is no proper arrangement to protect taxpayers’ record. A recent shifting of Large Tax Office (LTO) Lahore is a glaring example of the same where tax record has been dumped next to staircase at some six storey building.

Also, the Board has no data bank of tax matters adjudicated upon in the courts of law because it was not maintaining any such record interpreting different despite carrying an IT giant like PRAL with it.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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