ISLAMABAD: The government, Wednesday, introduced the Tax Law Amendment Bill, 2024, in the National Assembly, restricting the role of the Commissioner Inland Revenue (Appeals) to only deal with taxpayers’ income tax appeals up to Rs20 million; sales tax appeals (up to Rs10 million) and federal excise duty related appeals up to Rs5 million.

Under the proposed Tax Law Amendment Bill 2024, the government has not abolished the post of Commissioner Inland Revenue (Appeals), but any income tax appeal involving an amount above Rs20 million would be decided by the Appellate Tribunal Inland Revenue (ATIR). Similarly, sales tax appeals above Rs10 million and federal excise appeals above Rs5 million would also be transferred to the ATIR for decision within a six-month period.

Federal Minister for Law and Justice Azam Nazeer Tarar, Wednesday, introduced a bill further to amend certain tax law (The Tax Law Amendment Bill 2024), in the National Assembly.

Tax Law (First Amendment) Bill likely to be approved today

The bill has proposed that the jurisdiction of Commissioner Appeals would be curtailed. The FBR’s orders more than the above-said amounts will be challenged by the taxpayers directly before tribunals.

All cases pending before the Commissioner Inland Revenue (Appeals) in excess of the above limitation shall be transferred to IR tribunals and the said cases will be decided within six months of transfer from the Commissioner IR Appeals.

The appeal to the Tribunal and reference to the High Court will now be filed within 30 days of the receipt of the order. Moreover, the High Court shall decide the reference within six months of its filing.

Under the bill, all cases transferred from the Commissioner (Appeals) to the Appellate Tribunal shall be decided by the Appellate Tribunal within the specified period which shall commence from June 16, 2024.

The minister highlighted that there are pending tax cases amounting to Rs2,700 billion across various appellate forums, including Commissioners’ Appeals, Appellate Tribunals, High Courts, and the Supreme Court of Pakistan.

The purpose of the Tax Laws (Amendment) Act, 2024 is to give legislative effect to the taxation proposals of the federal government to liquidate a significant number of appeals pending before Commissioner IR (Appeals) and Appellate Tribunals as ATIR is the last fact-finding authority in the appellate hierarchy provided in fiscal statutes. Over the years, and for various reasons, including arbitrary constitution of benches, inadequate number of benches, delay in fixation of cases and disposal of appeals, a substantial amount of revenue, to the tune of Rs2 trillion, is held up in litigation before the ATIR. Federal Minister for Law and Justice Azam Nazeer Tarar said that the government was open to suggestions from the opposition and other stakeholders regarding the bill. He said that expanding of tax base was necessary for the strengthening of the country’s economy. He said that the Tax Bar Association had been consulted regarding the proposed bill.

Opposition Leader in the National Assembly Omar Ayub; however, suggested that the proposed bill should be discussed in the Finance Committee.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

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