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Pakistan Tax Advisors Association (PTAA) has approached Prime Minister Imran Khan for early clearance of blocked income tax refunds by the Federal Board of Revenue's field formations including Regional Tax Offices (RTOs) and Large Taxpayer Units (LTUs).
According to a communication of Javed Iqbal Qazi, chairman PTAA to the prime minister, despite processing and finalisation of lists for payment of income tax refunds by field formations, taxpayers are facing serious problems in obtaining admissible refunds from the RTOs and the LTUs.
Top FBR officials informed BR that so far the Board has paid a record amount of income tax refunds of Rs 246 billion during 2019-20, reflecting an increase of 117 percent when compared with same period of 2018-19.
Qazi said that the lists of income tax refund claimants have been finalised and again updated, but refunds are not credited into the bank accounts of the taxpayers.
Qazi stated that the RTOs/LTUs were processing income tax refund claims for the last one month under the prime minister's instructions but due to the reasons not known to the taxpayers the refunds had not been issued to all those taxpayers whose working capital had been blocked in the shape of blockage of refunds since 2014.
It simply means that income tax refunds had been held since long and at this juncture due to the Covid-19 salaries and wages of the employees have also not been paid due to the delay on behalf of the tax authorities.
Only meetings and meetings were
held but no clear orders/instructions were issued/passed on to the chief commissioners all over the country to issue the desired refunds.
When contacted, officials working in field formations stated that they had already sent first set of lists to the FBR, while the second was under process.
They said that there were procedural circulars/SROs already in fields about how to process a refund, and who was the approving authority in case refunds were above certain levels, the board had not rescinded those, hence those were to be followed, since the refunds were being issued directly to the taxpayers' accounts, bypassing the cheque system, therefore the board approval was required.
Recently, the FBR Chairperson, Nosheen Javed Amjad, directed chief commissioners of the LTUs and RTOs to update lists of income tax refund claimants on an emergency basis.
The FBR chairperson held video conference with the chief commissioners where field formations responded that they had to follow the due verification process, and could not bypass the process as laid down in the law.
Tax authorities decided to hold an urgent meeting with the chief commissioners to have an update on the payment of income tax refunds.
Javed Iqbal Qazi stated that the PTAA was unable to understand why the FBR and its team were delaying the matter on one pretext or the other, and that delay had caused an irreparable loss to all the employees of the taxpayers, who had not received salaries/wages for the last two months or so.
Even at this stage there is deficiency of trust between the tax collectors and the taxpayers, Qazi maintained.
"No doubt PM has taken personal interest in a number of matters and these have been resolved but in case of Income
Tax Refunds, the adviser for finance, chairperson FBR; members of the FBR have not been able to deliver," the chairman PTAA opined.
He claimed that, "Please be informed that PM's personal staff/Secretariat do not bring the letters of immense importance sent by various associations/bodies in PM's notice failing, which the problems remain unsettled/unresolved but on the other hand, we feel that the matter is under consideration of the prime minister,
whereas due to their negligence the nation is suffering a lot."
A lot of time has already been wasted, the prime minister must issue clear directions to all the concerned authorities including the adviser to the prime minister on finance, and chairperson FBR to resolve this old issue being faced by the taxpayers within the shortest period.
An early action in the matter is requested, he added.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020