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In a major move to expedite processing of sales tax refund claims of exporters, the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) Monday directed the chief commissioners to immediately deploy all resources for completion of process during the current week, keeping in view the sensitivity of the Prime Minister's COVID-19 Relief Package.

The FBR has issued instructions to all chief commissioners of Large Taxpayer Units and Regional Tax Offices.

Sources said that the FBR has expressed extreme displeasure over slow processing of refund claims at the level of the LTUs/RTOs.

As FBR is bound to issue refunds under the PM's relief package, the FBR has directed the chief commissioners to deploy all available resources to ensure processing of all new claims by the end of the current week. According to the FBR's instructions to the field formations, the sales tax refund process was required to have been completed by the end of last week, but it still remains inconclusive.

In view of this, it is further directed that to say that this process has to completed by the end of this week.

To ensure this, it has been further decided that no processing officer shall be allowed any leave until this process is completed. In view of sensitivity of the COVID-19 relief package implementation, this exercise has to be completed before April 20, even if extended working hours are required including observance of Saturday and Sunday as working days, the FBR's directive added. According to an announcement of the FBR for exporters on Monday, "FBR has devised a centralized system of online payment of Sales Tax/FED refunds directly in the bank account of the exporters. For this purpose, members are requested to update their IRIS profile. Taxpayers are advised to do needful asap to avail electronic transfer facility. In the given bank account details area in the system IBAN detail row is added wherein members are required to add their complete Bank's IBAN number of same bank account whose details are already available in IRIS profile to receive sales tax refund cheques."

The Finance Ministry had stated that the government had released Rs100 billion to industry under tax refunds on Thursday (April 2) under the government's Rs1,240 billion stimulus package announced by the prime minister on March 27.

All tax refunds as of 31st March 2020 have now been cleared and the payments made yesterday include Rs52 billion in the GST refunds to industry (other than export industry), Rs10 billion released to the export industry through the FASTER system, and Rs15 billion in duty drawback payments. On top of these payments, the government also released Rs20.5 billion under the DLTL scheme. During the current fiscal year (July-March FY20), the government has so far released Rs163 billion in tax refunds to industry (under the GST and income tax), which is a 61.4 percent increase from Rs101 billion released (July-March FY19) last year, the Ministry of Finance added.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020