The Federal Tax Ombudsman (FTO) office has released its annual performance report for the calendar year 2023, highlighting its achievements in providing speedy and cost-free justice to aggrieved taxpayers and general public. The report covers three major aspects of the organization: registration of complaints, disposal of complaints, and implementation of recommendations.
According to the report, the FTO office launched an aggressive outreach campaign in 2023 to create public awareness about its role and functions. The FTO advisors conducted 115 seminars and sessions with various stakeholders, including chambers of commerce, trade bodies, tax bars, and educational institutions, compared to 76 in 2022. The FTO office also introduced a state-of-the-art automated complaint system (COMSYS) for online registration of complaints, besides offering other modes of filing complaints through WhatsApp and email.
The report also acknowledges the positive contribution of the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) in sending messages to 117 million mobile phone users about the FTO office and its services. As a result, the FTO office received almost 60,000 calls and 80,000 WhatsApp messages from the public, seeking information and guidance. The report also appreciates the efforts of the interns appointed in the FTO secretariat, who liaised with the administration of different colleges and universities in Islamabad and Rawalpindi and arranged seminars in their campuses.
The report further highlights that the honourable President of Pakistan has upheld the decisions and recommendations of the FTO in 86.01% of the representations filed by the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) or complainants against these decisions. This has positively impacted public confidence in the office of the FTO and its decisions. The report also mentions that a helpline has been established in the FTO secretariat to facilitate the aggrieved taxpayers and general public.
The report also notes that the FBR has been responding positively to the recommendations of the FTO and has improved some of its systems by issuing SOPs, circulars, and orders on various issues, such as de-registration of NTN/STRN of deceased taxpayers, refraining from fictitious litigation, code of conduct for anti-smuggling officials, and simplified mechanism of return filing and tax payment for salaried individuals and pensioners.
The report concludes by reaffirming the commitment of the FTO office to rescue taxpayers and public on their legitimate complaints against tax officials and system that undermine their legal rights through maladministration and corruption.