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PTBA demands FBR reforms

By Our Correspondent
December 05, 2023

KARACHI: The Pakistan Tax Bar Association (PTBA), a body of tax lawyers, on Monday expressed its concerns over the non-implementation of the rule of law and working structure of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), the country’s tax authority.

In a letter addressed to FBR Chairman Amjad Zubair, PTBA President Anwar Kashif Mumtaz highlighted serious issues within the working structure of the FBR, raising questions about transparency and adherence to established regulations.

The PTBA brought attention to several key issues prevailing within the FBR. The association noted that some retired FBR officials continue to assist their on-duty colleagues in FBR offices, a practice explicitly prohibited under the FBR Service Rules.

Image of the FBRs building in Islamabad. — X/@FBRSpokesperson
Image of the FBR's building in Islamabad. — X/@FBRSpokesperson

The PTBA raised concerns about FBR officials engaging private human resources for assistance, a clear violation of the FBR Service Rules.

An area of concern identified by PTBA is that hearings under the Sales Tax Act, 1990, are conducted by sales tax auditors/senior auditors, not by the authorized Inland Revenue Officer (IRO), Assistant/Deputy Commissioner, as stipulated by the law.

The PTBA observed that sales tax proceedings, including notices, compliances, and orders, are not available or accessible online on the IRIS portal for taxpayers, hindering transparency and efficiency.

While PTBA acknowledged the recent efforts by the FBR to enhance trust and transparency by enforcing internal rules, it expressed reservations about the dual standards applied in the filing of tax declarations.

While FBR officials are granted until December 31, 2023, common taxpayers faced a deadline of November 30, 2023, creating a disparity that contradicts the agency's transparency goals and could adversely affect tax base broadening efforts.

To address these concerns and restore confidence among common taxpayers, PTBA recommends blocking the folders of non-filing officials until their status appears on the Active Taxpayers List (ATL). During this period, officials should be restricted from passing assessments or issuing any other orders.

The PTBA urged the FBR to grant an extension to all common taxpayers until December 31, 2023, aligning with the deadline provided to tax officials, based on the principles of equity.

It called upon FBR to address these issues promptly, emphasizing the urgency of bringing the FBR's house in order to facilitate tax filers and take appropriate actions against non-filers. The association expressed its readiness to engage in a discussion with chairman Zubair in person to ensure that the concerns of genuine taxpayers are thoroughly addressed.