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LAHORE: Federal Tax Ombudsman Dr Asif Mahmood Jah has declared that a delay in implementing the orders of Appellate Tribunals Inland Revenue (ATIRs) by the tax authorities is tantamount to maladministration.

Also, he added, the neglect, inattention in administration or discharge of duties and responsibilities fall under the misuse of authority against the legal rights of taxpayers. According to him, there is tendency among the tax department officials of creating fake tax demands against pending refund claims simply to delay the process.

He regretted to note that the department officials act arbitrarily by adjusting outstanding refund claims without the consent of taxpayers. All such adverse actions are taken in summary proceedings and most of the decisions are taken by the department without hearing the refund claimants, he added.

According to him, it is further worrisome to note that the department prefers to challenge the orders of the appellant tribunals to the higher courts simply to delay the genuine refund claims of taxpayers despite vacation or controversial orders of department with a direction to delete the additions made against such claims.

Dr Jah observed that the department is found adamant to stretch out delays despite directions from the higher forums and most of the taxpayers ultimately approach the office of the tax ombudsman as an opportunity of last resort.

He said taxpayers are forced to make various visits to the department while holding court orders in their favour but to no avail, as tax authorities are found least bothered about all such orders. This whole exercise results into the wastage of not only precious time of the taxpayer but also financial resources, he pointed out.

The FTO pointed out that the concerned tax authorities are also found declining to cooperate with taxpayers by stating that the requisite documents are not available with them when a written request is made to examine the assessment record by the taxpayers.

In order to complicate the situation for taxpayers, he said, the department initiates de novo proceedings and withholds refund amounts until the completion of proceedings. Delays are made on flimsy excuses that the department has received court orders late, which has resulted into delay in initiating the investigation proceedings afresh.

Sources from the local filed formation of Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) have been pointing during the tenure of former chairman Dr Muhammad Ashfaq Ahmad that verbal directions were issued during the online meetings to create fake demands for withholding refund claims besides carrying out sectoral audits to generate revenue.

This policy of the department had led to flood of litigation against the department, resulting into financial loss to taxpayers as well as the department, he said and added that inattention to court orders is attributed to frequent change in jurisdiction within the field formations and posting/ transfers of officers.

Meanwhile, he said, taxpayers are bound to suffer hardships due to the indifferent attitude of the department.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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