ISLAMABAD (APP) - Income Tax refund of Rs. 685 million outstanding since 1995-96 has been settled after the intervention of Federal Tax Ombudsman (FTO). A press release issued here on Friday said Port Qasim Authority (PQA) had lodged a complaint with the FTO that Income Tax Department had illegally withheld its refunds for the last 15 years, although PQA being a local authority was exempt from tax under the Income Tax Law. The appellate authorities had annulled the orders of the department, but the officers of the department did not allow any relief to the taxpayer. The PQA had filed a writ petition in Sindh High Court, and on the directions of the court, a committee headed by the chairman FBR had issued detailed order accepting PQA as a Local Authority for income purposes. But despite repeated requests by the PQA, the Income Tax Department continued to charge income tax on its income. The senior officers of the department and FBR did not listen to the requests of the PQA and huge refundable amount of Rs. 712 million stood withheld by the department for a long period of five to eleven years. The Federal Tax Ombudsman, Dr. Shoaib Suddle has also taken serious notice of the high handedness of the departmental officials and recommended disciplinary action against those found responsible for arbitrarily withholding refund of PQA for such a long period. He has also ordered the FBR to pay compensation to the taxpayer in accordance with the provisions of law. It may be added that hundreds of millions of blocked refunds have been issued by the field formations of the FBR on the intervention of the Federal Tax Ombudsman and business community has greatly appreciated the Ombudsmans taking cognizance of maladministration prevalent in the tax administration of Pakistan.