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ISLAMABAD: The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) Policy and Information Technology Wing should immediately address the issue of declaring manual filers of income tax returns as “inactive” on the FBR-maintained Active Taxpayers List (ATL) which is a clear violation of Rule 73 of Income Tax Rules 2002.

Tax lawyer Waheed Shahzad Butt, who has highlighted this anomaly, said that the FBR Policy/IT-Wing is facing severe criticism for its failure to effectively address the issue of ATL, wherein, taxpayers who had filed their income tax returns manually have been excluded from the ATL maintained by the FBR on the basis of tax returns filed for the Tax Year 2022.

Waheed further added that despite the FBR’s responsibility to ensure fair and equitable taxation for all citizens, it has come to light that manual filers of tax returns have illegally been discriminated against electronically filed returns, due to incompetence on the part of some Policy/IT-Wing tax employees. This failure to cater to the specific needs of this vulnerable segment of the taxpayer community has drawn sharp criticism from various quarters.

Waheed told this correspondent that a categorical written complaint/ intimation/ information regarding blatant violation of Rule 73 of Income Tax Rules 2002 by FBR and the illegal exclusion of some taxpayers from the ATL database. The FBR, in direct violation of Rule 73, has deemed/treated the manually filed income tax return for the Tax Year 2022 as “Inactive,” despite it being filed within the time specified by law and as per procedure devised by the legislature in terms of Rule 73.

Rule 73 of the IT Rules 2002 explicitly states that tax returns filed within the specified time should be considered active and duly processed by the FBR. The rule was put in place to ensure fair treatment and accurate recording of taxpayers’ information. However, the FBR’s negligence in adhering to this rule has caused unnecessary inconvenience and concern, ultimately a waste of precious exchequer resources in futile litigation. Taxpayers expect a detailed explanation for the violation of Rule 73 and an assurance that such errors will not recur in the future. It is imperative that the FBR upholds its duty to treat taxpayers fairly and accurately reflect their status as per the law, Waheed added.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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