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October 28, 2020

FBR online system’s glitches irk taxpayers


October 28, 2020

KARACHI: As the government makes tall claims about the efficiency of the Federal Board of Revenue’s (FBR) online tax system, taxpayers say the nightmare of glitches is yet again haunting them during filing of returns, it was learnt on Tuesday.

Tax professionals said the online correspondence on the IRIS portal of the FBR failed to timely inform taxpayers about various proceedings and sometime they come to know about them after recovery is made.

The tax practitioners said the entire proceeding has been once shifted through the IRIS without intimating the taxpayer through email or phone. Around 96 percent of taxpayers open the IRIS portal only once in a year for the purpose of filing their income tax returns.

“Therefore, the authorities should send tax notices on given addresses, email addresses and through text messaging on registered mobile phones,” Zeeshan Merchant, president of Karachi Tax Bar Association said.

The FBR’s IRIS portal is an online tool for correspondence with the taxpayers. The government said the system was developed after comprehensive study of foreign models. It said the system is comparable to any other contemporary solutions. Yet, the issue is raised every year when load on the system ramps up due to filing of returns.

File uploading capacity in the system is also limited up to 5 megabytes. Taxpayers face difficulties when have bigger file to upload.

Merchant said the problems have been raised with Member Inland Revenue Operations Muhammad Ashfaq to facilitate taxpayers and avoid unnecessary litigation.

According to directory tax year 2018, around 2.85 million income tax returns were filed and out of which 54 percent are business individuals and another 42 percent are salaried persons.

Merchant further said individuals / companies who open their IRIS accounts frequently also have problems in receiving notices of proceedings. “Only first notice appears on the inbox of the IRIS account,” he added.

Merchant said a letter has been sent to the Member IR Operations to highlight the issues.

The member was informed that all the new notices/correspondences have to appear in IRIS inbox. But mostly the new notifications are not seen at the time of logging in the IRIS.

Further the follow-up notices or correspondence do not appear in the inbox.

“The absence of this notification, understandably, is creating a severe hardship to the taxpayers and actually resulting in hindrance in ensuring the requisite timely compliance of these notices including but not limited to show-cause notices,” said the letter sent to FBR official.

The tax bar advised that all the correspondence should be made by the concerned tax officers mandatorily through inbox feature with a proper notification to the taxpayer through text messaging, email and registered post/courier.