FTO offices being enhanced to ensure inexpensive, speedy justice: Abdul Rauf

KARACHI: Federal Tax Ombudsman (FTO) Abdul Rauf Chaudhry has said that the number of FTO offices has successfully been raised to nine by setting up four more offices in numerous cities including Faisalabad, Sukkur, Abbottabad and Multan whereas other FTO offices will also be opened in more cities as well in order to ensure speedy justice to the perturbed taxpayers.

Exchanging views at a meeting during his visit to Karachi Chamber on Tuesday, FTO added that they have received recommendations for opening an FTO office in Sialkot as well which was being considered but the decision to open an FTO Office in any city depends on the number of taxpayers of that particular city. Besides the aforementioned offices, FTO Offices in Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore, Quetta and Peshawar were actively engaged in resolving the taxpayers’ complaints which were being resolved in minimum possible time.

Secretary FTO Abdul Khaliq, Advisors FTO Manzoor Hussain Kureshi, Shahid Ahmed and Imtiaz Ahmed Burakzai, President KCCI Younus Muhammad Bashir, Chairman GST & Refunds Sub-Committee KCCI Shoaib Ahmed Faridi, Former Vice President KCCI Muhammad Idrees, KCCI Managing Committee members and FBR officials were present at the meeting.

FTO Abdul Rauf Siddiqui further informed that the time required to decide any complaint has been reduced from 60 days to 45 days whereas the FTO received around 1500 to 2000 complaints last year, of which review was filed in 100 cases only either by the complainant or by the Department. Complainant can also lodge their complaint online via FTO’s website or they can send an SMS about their complaint, which will surely be taken up, he added.

He said that the recent initiatives undertaken by FTO Secretariat were focused on providing inexpensive and speedy justice to the taxpayer aggrieved by tax maladministration.

Referring to concerns expressed by President KCCI over Section 38 of Sales Tax Act 1990, the Abdul Rauf Chaudhry admitted that it was highly unfair on part of FBR officials to misuse their powers and harass taxpayers which will not be allowed at any cost. FTO has taken strict notice of such harassments in numerous cases from time to time and if anyone feels, they were being harassed by FBR officials, they can immediately approach the FTO for assistance which was also empowered to take suo motto notice.

He also assured the business community of discussing property valuation with relevant quarters to address concerns over industrial property.

With reference to the issue of customs valuation, the FTO opined that the valuation should not be changed overnight and stakeholders should be consulted before implementing the changes.

Abdul Rauf Chaudhry said that the refunds were due right of taxpayers and same should be issued within the specified timeline. He said that there were many representations before the President of Pakistan on refund issue, which were in favor of taxpayers. He also said that there was no relief to taxpayers in case of delayed issuance of refunds.

Earlier, President KCCI Younus Muhammad Bashir, while welcoming the guests, appreciated the efforts being made by Federal Tax Ombudsman towards rectifying the complaints of taxpayers fairly, promptly, justly, and independently.

He informed the FTO that FBR was misusing Section 38 of the Sales Tax Act 1990 as Sales Tax Department officials use negative tactics to create an atmosphere of harassment. FBR was also involved in hampering the business activities by probing into business premises without prior notices or any intimation as par rules and regulations. They, along with a team of subordinates, rather issue notices on the spot and force the owners to accept their version of stock which was measured on just assumptions without using any well-accepted criteria.

Referring to 18th amendment, he said that this amendment resulted in raising taxation issues between provincial and federal government that have not been resolved as yet. Owing to this,

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