ISLAMABAD - President Pakistan Businessmen and Intellectuals Forum (PBIF) Mian Zahid Hussain on Monday expressed concern over missed quarterly collection target by FBR. He asked tax authorities to win confidence of taxpayers, bridge the gulf between tax collectors and taxpayers.

Mian Zahid Hussain said that FBR has missed tax collection target by Rs70 billion at a time when exports, remittances and investment are also sliding. Government must reform the tax administration otherwise carrying the begging bowl will be the only option to keep country running, he said.

FBR must overcome image problem to confront menace of low revenue collection as many taxpayers see FBR with suspicion which is not in the national interest. Missed revenue collection targets contribute to underdevelopment and dependence on foreign donors that can be reversed by only bridging gulf between tax collectors and taxpayers, he said. Mian Zahid Hussain said that industrialists feel that they pay too much of taxes while majority believe that the amount they contribute to government exchequer as tax is not properly utilised which is very discouraging.

Taxpayers want to pay for the development and not to those who waste their money which has contributed to unsatisfactory tax-to-GDP ratio. Mian Zahid Hussain said that achieving or exceeding revenue collection targets through suppressive methods and shifting burden of taxes from rich to poor has added to the unpopularity of the tax collectors.

FBR urged to check IRIS system

ISLAMABAD (NNI): The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) should immediately check whether FBR's electronic system "IRIS" is properly accepting/processing refund applications from the taxpayers who had duly filed their income tax returns since August 2016.

According to media sources, a tax expert was of the view that the FBR's electronic system "IRIS" is unable to cater the refunds applications from the taxpayers who had duly filed their income tax returns since August 2016 while in exercise of powers conferred under Section 214A of the Income Tax Ordinance, 2001, the FBR has already extended date of filing of return firstly through Circular 09 of 2016 and secondly through Circular 11 of 2016 and now the last date to file the tax return is October 31, 2016.

When contacted, tax lawyer Waheed Shahzad Butt told that the FBR's electronic system IRIS https://iris.fbr.gov.pk has completely failed to accept/process the refund applications for the Tax Year 2016 and despite repeated attempts by the taxpayers following categorical message has been appeared on the IRIS screen: Tax lawyer further added that surprisingly all income tax returns duly submitted through IRIS electronically on FBR's official webportal https://iris.fbr.gov.pk remained placed on the folder classified by the IRIS as "Outbox" on the official webpage, which ultimately means that income tax return/data has not been processed/forwarded by the IRIS to the FBR's data bank for computing the quantum of refunds claimed by the taxpayers for the Tax Year 2016 since the filing of first tax return for the Tax Year 2016.

There is a need to conduct an audit of tax receipts and refunds due in order to arrive at the exact figure because of the obvious reason verified outstanding tax refunds have surged to multi billions, which is included by the FBR in its revenue collection. The Federal Tax Ombudsman had also constituted a committee to determine the exact tax refund claims and recommend a future course of action, the lawyer added.

The FBR is using the taxpayer's cash by not accepting the tax refund applications despite the fact that the tax department is bound to issue/process the tax refund within 60 days after the claim date. As per law, taxpayers, who pay adjustable withholding income tax at various payments, have right to claim refunds. Refunds can only be claimed when a taxpayer files income tax return with the FBR. A taxpayer can claim refunds on withholding tax deducted on cellular/landline phone, electricity bill payments, cash withdrawal, school fee and functions etc.

Refund is repayment of taxes, already collected on goods/services etc while the FBR holds that refund due to failure on the part of IRIS system. Federal Tax Ombudsman office has pointed out 90 percent complaints it handles is on account of delays in refund, Waheed added.