ISLAMABAD: Member Taxpayers Audit Haroon Muhammad Khan Tareen said that timely and accurate filing of tax returns is a national obligation of every taxpayer. Taxpayers should understand the importance and utility of taxes. Reforms in FBR are essential to run all the departments working under it smoothly. For that purpose, coordination and linkages among departments have to be strengthened on an urgent basis.
In an exclusive interview with Customs Today, Mr. Haroon said that balloting was conducted transparently as there was no interference of any department like PRAL which made it fair and impartial. For the purpose of auditing, we have put in place a modern Tax Payer Audit Management System (TAMS) to facilitate taxpayers and to enhance the audit transparency.
He stated that the notices for audit will be sent through this computerized system which will eliminate the meddling of filed officers. Due to this there remains no interaction between taxpayer and tax authority in auditing process and now powers are conferred to commissioners.
Mr Haroon further elaborated that notices will be issued to taxpayers through software and every notice will have a separate ID and bar code. This notification passes through three steps; firstly, the electronically sent notices are adjusted in the taxpayer folder, already made in the software; secondly, the other copy is sent through email and thirdly, SMS is generated. The time of writing letters and correspondence will also be added in the system.
In an answer to a question, he said that field officers face pressures from taxpayers to fabricate the auditing process but we are normally not informed about this because we only make policies over here while the actual implementation of process and conducting of auditing is entirely done by field officers.
He said that this auditing process has just introduced in Pakistan but it is applied around the world including America. Once the system selects a taxpayer, they start his/her auditing for last 5 or 7 years.
While talking about addressing taxpayers’ grievances during auditing, Mr Tareen said that every taxpayer aggrieved of auditing has the right to appeal. He can approach Commissioner Appeals and Inland Revenue Appellate Tribunals consisting of 2 persons. A tribunal consists of one grade-21 officer, from Law Ministry who has powers of a judge. And then the applicant can also move the Supreme Court and the High Courts.
In an answer to a question, he said that trials regarding taxpayer problems are held on an urgent basis but still a number of problems delay the process due to working of tribunals and psychology of taxpayers. As a tribunal is composed of 2 members – the judge and the accountant, and for adjudication, presence of both is compulsory. If anyone is absent the proceeding will be postponed. Sometimes, Taxpayers’ lawyers try to take dates from the tribunal without prior knowledge of clients. Another culture developing rapidly is that the other party files writ petition through the High Court and the tax cases are given secondary importance there owing to more important cases like murder and dacoity, etc.
He said, “We lack human resource and this creates difficulties in the field especially in delivering the notices to taxpayers. We have inspectors for sending notices but it’s a lengthy process. We have to advertise through different means.”
He stressed that transfers and postings of all officers in FBR should be held on regular basis, otherwise the department could not get the full output from those officers. Transfers and postings make the officers more efficient and vigilant.
He said that present FBR Chairman Tariq Bajwa is a candid and honest officer who is working very sincerely to uplift the performance and enhance the image of FBR. All transfers and postings under the chairmanship of Tariq Bajwa are made on merit and competent and honest persons are posted on prominent posts.