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A key recommendation of the Federal Tax Ombudsman (FTO) remains unimplemented by the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) wherein FTO has unearthed massive irregularities in the FBR's taxpayer registration system and observed a serious loophole in the "IRIS" module, which is being misused by the unauthorized persons.
It is reliably learnt that landmark order has been issued by the FTO in a complaint preferred by Shahid through Waheed Shahzad Butt, Advocate, wherein the FTO has detected that by not pressing the condition of Cell Number of the CNIC holder, the Dept has opened floodgate for the unlawful and unauthorized persons to exploit the user free IRIS system for their nefarious designs. It is recommended to the FBR to ensure that at the time of registration, the taxpayer should provide his own cell phone number duly registered in his name at least thirty (30) days earlier and his E-mail as was required in the original user free "IRIS" module.
Complainant stated, quite surprisingly it was categorically stated by Rehmatullah Khan Wazir, the then Member (Taxpayers Audit), in a report submitted on Automatic Selection for Audit under Section 214D that 428,830 returns belonging to taxpayers with NIL tax paid/NIL turnover but no one in FBR is willing to consider the aspects of potential planned tax robbery/evasion seriously. Earlier, the FTO has issued notice to Chairman FBR/Secretary Revenue Division and Member (IT) FBR for initiating disciplinary proceedings against PRAL/ IRIS/FBR/IT-Wing employees.
FTO order states "The complaint was filed against (i) Unauthorized access to the Complainant's CNIC (ii) Unilateral issuance of NTN and unlawful filing of return and wealth statement. The Complainant, a non-filer individual, purchased a motor vehicle during April 2018. According to the AR, after paying all dues/taxes applicable, the Complainant sought services of an agent operating in the vicinity of the RTO, Nabha Road, Lahore for registration of vehicle. He alleged that the above agent in connivance with officials of the FBR, Lahore got unilaterally issued NTN in the Complainant's name in spite of the fact that he had never submitted such application. Subsequently, on the same day again without knowledge and permission, someone working in the FBR/IRIS filed online income tax return together with wealth statement showing "Nil" income/wealth. They (Unauthorized persons) supplied to the Deptt fake Cell Phone Number (00923097755393) and email ID ([email protected]). The CNIC was admittedly handed over with the Complainant's consent to the agent for the purpose of registration of vehicle and payment of taxes etc as non-filer. The fact, however, remains that while obtaining NTN, fake cell number and e-mail address had been used. Although initially as per SOP issued regarding new user free IRIS registration module, the new taxpayers were required to disclose their cell numbers with SIM registered against their own CNIC. The Deptt by withdrawing this important check had thus created a serious loophole in the IRIS module, which is being exploited by the unauthorized and unscrupulous persons for their ulterior interests at the cost of innocent taxpayers and the government exchequer. Notwithstanding position discussed supra, by not pressing the condition of Cell no. of the CNIC holder, the Deptt has opened floodgate for the unlawful and unauthorized persons to exploit the user free IRIS system for their nefarious designs, FTO ordered.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2019


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