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ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court has directed the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to ensure that all its notifications which may affect the taxpayers are gazetted and placed on the Revenue’s website.

A three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa, and comprising Justice Aminuddin and Justice Athar Minallah, on Wednesday, heard the review petition of Commissioner Inland Revenue, Peshawar against the M/s Shiraz Restaurant.

The bench dismissed the Commissioner Inland Revenue’s petition with cost - Rs10,000, asking the counsel to deposit this amount in any charity organisation of his or the petitioner’s choice within a week and submit its receipt in the apex court for record. The SC office is directed to send this order to the chairman FBR for circulation to the Regional Commissioners Income Tax.

The court noted that the FBR should be more transparent as it is the highest tax-collecting body in the country. It said non-transparency and the concealment of the documents by the tax authorities have overburdened the high courts with references and encroached upon the limited time of the apex court.

It further said that this case is a good example of how the cases are presented and the indulgence shown by the Commissioner. The Court noted that Assistant Commissioner Inland Revenue, Peshawar, Sohail Ahmed, the gentleman, who represented the department, was not aware of the notification regarding the delegation of power to the Inland Deputy Commissioner Peshawar to amend the assessment.

The order said such orders must be gazetted and displayed on the website of the FBR, as it will not only benefit the officers, who represent the FBR but also the taxpayers.

According to the detail, the commissioner inland revenue had delegated his power to the deputy commissioner revenue to amend the assessment against the respondent (M/s Shiraz Restaurant), which he challenged in the Peshawar High Court (PHC). The high court rendered a verdict against the department, therefore, it approached the apex court. The Supreme Court has also rejected the department’s petition, and thus the review petition.

During the proceedings, the chief justice said the legislature thinks that the deputy commissioner revenue is not competent to amend the assessment, but the commissioner thinks he is, adding the Supreme Court is there to implement the laws made by the parliament.

He said the order was passed by the Deputy Commission Revenue, who was not authorised. The CJP asked Assistant Commissioner Revenue Sohail Ahmed, who represented the department, to show the notification which shows that the deputy commissioner revenue can amend the assessment. He, however, failed to produce the notification and also admitted that it was not gazetted.

The bench noted that it is beyond comprehension why such an order was kept concealed, adding that such an order is used in appropriate cases and to suppress the taxpayers. It said if the FBR does not generate confidence in the public then it would complicate the issue of collecting more taxes.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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