ISLAMABAD, June 13 (APP): President Dr Arif Alvi on Monday urged the taxpayers and business community to approach the office of the Federal Tax Ombudsman (FTO) through its complaint system for the redressal of their taxation grievances on a priority basis.
Addressing an awareness seminar on the services of FTO here at the Aiwan-e-Sadr, he said the FTO was ensuring prompt dispensation of justice regarding the tax-related petitions at the doorsteps of the complainants.
President Alvi stressed engaging business entrepreneurs and the general public to increase awareness about the FTO services and expanding the outreach with the aim of creating a fair, just, and equitable tax system.
He mentioned that FTO was effectively endeavoring to implement its mandate of providing cost-free justice to taxpayers within around 60 days, and even without the obligation upon the complainant to engage a lawyer.
He expressed satisfaction that FTO disposed of 2,867 complaints out of the 3,371 received during the year 2021 and added that the significant increase in numbers of complaints indicated the enhanced trust of taxpayers in the FTO office.
He lauded that the average disposal time of complaints was also reduced from 68.43 days in 2020 to 57.29 days in 2021.
He said it was the responsibility of all institutions under the government to improve their performance and emphasized that immediate redressal of taxpayers’ problems would promote tax culture in the country.
President Alvi said FTO was acting as a public relief-oriented institution with the introduction of a fast system for the registration of complaints and formulation of strategies for quick resolution of the tax-related problems.
The president mentioned that he studied every case received from FTO before giving a verdict on appeals.
He said FTO’s intervention had resulted in the creation of huge tax demand and recovery of millions by the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) in mega cases.
Dr Alvi stressed that several complaints related to the petty amounts of money could be settled within the shortest possible time.
Federal Tax Ombudsman Dr Asif Mahmood Jah said efforts were afoot to make FTO a public-friendly organization and a platform for prompt dispensation of justice.
He said FTO was safeguarding the public exchequer by detecting illegal refund claims through its own motion investigations as well as inspection of the offices of FBR.
He said an amount of Rs 8,499 million was refunded in 2021 compared to Rs 8,242 million in 2020.
The percentage of the complaints in the category of income tax touched 59.06%, sales tax at 19.28%, customs duty at 21.41%, and Federal Excise duty at 0.25%.
He mentioned that FTO was encouraging stakeholders to become part of the tax net and dismissed the impression that the body was against the actions of FBR.
He said all Advisers of the FTO Regional Offices had started dealing with specific immediate cases to make utilization of the available provision under Section 33 of the FTO Ordinance, 2000 for informal resolution of the disputes.
Dr Jah said FTO facilitation desks had been established at important airports and at border Customs stations to provide the necessary information and immediate relief to travelers.
The awareness seminar was attended by heads of Chambers of Commerce and Industries, businessmen, and taxation experts.