ISLAMABAD: Lord Wajid Khan, a member of the House of Lords, England called on Dr. Muhammad Ashfaq Ahmed, Chairman Federal Board of Revenue here at FBR headquarters Thursday. During the meeting, Lord Wajid Khan congratulated the Chairman on assuming the office of the country’s premier tax collecting organization and appreciated the team FBR for showing an exceptional performance in maximizing revenue potential and broadening the tax base. He also commended FBR for exceeding the assigned revenue target in the first quarter of FY 2021-22.
Relating to his personal knowledge of taxation practices in England and experience of working as a member of the Tax Committee in European Parliament, he expressed his appreciation for the recent initiatives taken by FBR to digitize and automate the processes involved in tax collection in order to minimize human interaction with taxpayers and thereby ensure transparency in the system.
He, in particular, acknowledged the recent launch of Track and Trace System to digitally monitor important sectors like Tobacco, Fertilizers, Sugar, Beverages, Cement and Pharmaceutical from manufacturers to the end users. He also hoped that Point of Sales System introduced by FBR would ensure real time monitoring of actual sales of Tier one retailers to plug revenue leakages and thus increase the revenue collection, significantly.
Chairman FBR briefed the visiting dignitary about his focus on some of the key initiatives which would broaden the tax base and ensure transparency and accountability within FBR. He informed the visiting guest that the introduction of third-party audit would minimize harassment of taxpayers and bridge the trust deficit between taxpayers and FBR. He expressed strong resolve of Team FBR to not only achieve the maximum revenue during the second quarter but also strive to exceed the staggering target of PKR 5,829 billion set for the current FY 2021-22.
Lord Wajid Khan also highlighted the pivotal role being played by foreign remittances sent by Pakistani diaspora settled in England and their keen interest to invest in their home country. He extended an invitation to Chairman FBR to visit England in order to meet the Pakistan community in person and thereby address their concerns about taxation laws in Pakistan. “This meeting would provide an excellent opportunity to Chairman FBR to listen to the tax related issues of Pakistani community living in UK and to brief them about the recent initiatives taken by FBR for their facilitation,” he added. Lord Wajid Khan hoped to develop an enduring collaboration between UK’s HM Revenue and Customs and FBR to learn from each other’s best practices.
Chairman FBR thanked Lord Wajid Khan for his visit and accepted his invitation to visit England. He expressed his desire to develop a closer collaboration between HMRC and FBR to promote cooperation on tax related matters and ease of doing business for Pakistani diaspora settled in England.
Meanwhile, building further on its ongoing drive for digitization and automation of various processes involved in revenue collection, Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has developed “Single Sales Tax Portal” to facilitate the taxpayers and ensure the ease of doing business. This watershed development of the Single Tax Portal developed by FBR is the outcome of various rounds of negotiations between FBR and the provincial revenue authorities. FBR has already offered this portal to the provincial revenue authorities in order to facilitate the taxpayers through one-link facility. The portal is in the final stages of testing and is likely to be launched by the last week of October, 2021.
It is pertinent to mention that till now, Sales Tax registered persons had to file their monthly Sales Tax returns separately to every tax jurisdiction where they conducted business, such as FBR, Sindh Revenue Board, Punjab Revenue Authority, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Revenue Authority and Balochistan Revenue Authority. Some of the taxpayers had to file returns with revenue authorities of Azad Jammu & Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan. This was a cumbersome task, which often led to complications and disputes over jurisdiction.
Single Sales Tax Portal will also help in simplification of the tax procedures. It will enable the taxpayers to save time and effort, and reduce their compliance costs. By minimizing data entry, it also addresses the issues of data and calculation errors. The system will automatically apportion input tax adjustment as well as tax payments across the sales tax authorities. Through this system, officers of all revenue authorities will be able to make better informed decisions about matters related to Sales Tax.
The single portal system is a significant milestone towards taxpayers’ facilitation and a big leap forward towards harmonization of taxes between the Federal Government and the provinces.
Meanwhile, Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has once again urged all the taxpayers, both old and new, to make the most of one-time extension of 15 days granted for filing of Income Tax Returns till 15th October, 2021. Therefore, they are advised to file their returns without delay as the given deadline is already fast approaching. It is further reiterated that the timely Filing of Income Tax Returns would also save them from the hassles of system issues which may occur due to extraordinary traffic at the portal on the last day.
However, FBR has enhanced the capacity of its IT System to ensure that the IRIS software is properly working, round the clock. FBR believes in facilitation of taxpayers and accords top priority to resolve their issues. The extension in date for filing of return till 15th October, 2021 was also aimed at alleviation of their hardships.
It is further reaffirmed that the extension given on September 30 was only due to the fact that FBR’s IT System got overloaded and since that has been fixed now, no more extension will be allowed beyond October 15, 2021.
Meanwhile, Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has issued a clarification about a news item appearing in Daily Express Tribune wherein it is alleged in the news story that FBR had directed all Commissioners (Appeals) to report to the heads of Regional and Large Tax Offices.
FBR has clarified that the news item reflects misunderstanding and out of context reference of Legal Wing’s letters dated 11th and 20th August, 2021. While explaining the reason of writing the letters, FBR referred to the Video Link Conference of Commissioners Appeals held on 10th August, 2021, which was chaired by erstwhile Special Assistant to PM on Finance & Revenue Dr. Waqar Masood and the then Chairman FBR Asim Ahmad wherein it was directed that a quarterly review meeting may be conducted by Commissioners (Appeals) with the relevant Chief Commissioners of field offices to highlight legal and factual shortcomings of orders passed by the officers in field formations.
The said news report is based on incorrect appraisal of facts, as no such directions have been issued with the purpose to interfere in the judicial process of Commissioners (Appeals). FBR has further clarified that the office of Commissioner (Appeals) is an independent judicial forum. The instructions are of advisory nature and do not place Commissioners IR (Appeals) under the administrative control of Chief Commissioners or field formations. The purpose of the instructions was to highlight legal and factual shortcomings of orders of the officers to help improve quality of assessment orders. This will help reduce unnecessary litigation, as weak assessment orders do not stand the test of appeal and burden the taxpayers as well as the department with unnecessary litigation. FBR has further clarified that in view of the increasing workload of the Commissioners IR (Appeals), the said letter is also being withdrawn to allow them to concentrate more on timely disposal of pending appeal cases.