Only 700,000 people file tax returns: FTO

Karachi: Federal Tax Ombudsman Dr Shoaib Suddle has said that if only a few influential in Pakistan would be punished for tax evasion, all the evaders would get on track automatically.

Speaking to the office-bearers and members of Korangi Association of Trade and Industry (KATI) here today said that due to his suo motto action in an effort to redress the genuine complaints of taxpayers, the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) provided relief of Rs 8 billion to 196,000 taxpayers.

”If we have to run this country then everyone should pay tax on his income”, Suddle said pointing out the dismal tax to GDP ratio in Pakistan which is below 9 per cent as against 16 per cent in India and 51 per cent in Sweden.

He said that it’s pity that only 700,000 people have filed tax returns this year. Suddle said that the FTO office provides relief against unjust taxation by the tax collectors. “It is, however, not an office to facilitate tax evaders”, he said regretting that tax compliance in Pakistan is very low. Against global tax to GDP ratio of 25-30 percent and this ratio in Pakistan is below nine percent.

He said that a web-based Complaint Handling System was being set up with the office
of Tax Ombudsman soon to address taxpayers’ grievances efficiently. He said the misuse of discretion by tax collectors is often not reported. “You should raise your voice against such malpractices when the services of Tax Ombudsman are available with you.”

He said that 1,500 to 1,600 complaints are received every year and out of that total 80 percent end up in the favour of complainants, which represents the inefficiency of tax machinery. FTO said that concerted efforts are needed on the part of FBR to alleviate the sufferings and agony of taxpayers.

He said that in order to get rid of widespread maladministration a total shift is required in the policies, as the approach is still based on old colonial systems and practices. He said that there is too much concentration of powers in FBR, which gives birth to corruption. There should be separation of powers and multiple functions should not be performed.

Earlier, Chairman KATI, Mohammad Zubair Chhaya said in his welcome address that FTO’s performance has become par excellence since the day Dr Suddle has come into this office. He also praised Dr Suddle’s courageous role in Shoaib Suddle Commission to probe Dr Arsalan Case.

He agreed to the issues raised by President All Karachi Industrial Alliance, Mian Zahid Hussain and assured that tax-payers woes to be considered especially in adjudications wherein malpractices is prevalent.

Mian Zahid Hussain drew FTO’s attention towards the grim situation of export sector saying that refunds have totally been stopped and claims of billions of rupees have been stuck up. He requested that Dr Shoaib Suddle who is proactively performing should take notice of this situation whether it would be a suo moto action or consider his plea as petition. He further pointed out that audit issue has become very serious as notices are being issued to the businessmen even in violation of Lahore High Court’s order.

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