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The Federal Tax Ombudsman of Pakistan: Making a difference during 2010

FTO Dr Shoaib Suddle The Federal Tax Ombudsman of Pakistan: Making a difference during 2010

FTO Pakistan Dr Shoaib Suddle

In 2010, the Office of Federal Tax Ombudsman received 1446 individual complaints of which 955 (66%) pertained to income tax, 276 (19%) to sales tax, 205 (14%) to customs and 10 (less than 1%) complaints involved the Federal Excise Duty. Of these, 1261 (87%) complaints were decided by 31st December 2010. 83 % of decided complaints ended up in favour of the taxpayer. Additionally, all 175 complaints pending from 2009 were disposed of by 31st March 2010.

The average time taken per individual complaint to decide during 2010 was 67 days as compared to 117 days during 2009. As a matter of fact, there was hardly a complaint that took more than 3 months to decide during 2010.

Exceptionally, as against refunds of Rs.94 million in 231 individual taxpayer complaints in 2009, the amount refunded in 685 individual complaints during 2010 on the intervention of Federal Tax Ombudsman exceeded Rs.1, 972 million. The refunds paid to aggrieved taxpayers on the basis of their individual complaints investigated by the Office of the Federal Tax Ombudsman in 2010 were thus 21 times the amount refunded in 2009.

In 2010, the Federal Tax Ombudsman for the first time since its establishment in 2000 started conducting suo moto investigations involving matters indicating underlying systemic or major service-delivery issues. Under the suo moto jurisdiction, the Federal Tax Ombudsman got settled 400 sales tax cases involving refunds of Rs.180 million, and another 805 cases of held-up bank guarantees amounting to Rs.80 million. In addition, 194,056 duty draw-back customs cases involving refunds of Rs.4,904 million were got settled during 2010. A further amount of Rs.191 million was got refunded in 70 sales tax cases. In all, the taxpayers received refunds amounting to Rs.5,095 million during 2010 under the Federal Tax Ombudsman’s suo moto jurisdiction.

The fine performance of Federal Tax Ombudsman Office is evident from the fact that total refunds got issued to taxpayers in 196,015 cases during 2010 exceeded Rs.7 billion as compared to Rs.2 billion for the entire nine-year period of 2000-2009. In other words, the amount of refunds issued to taxpayers during 2010 was 32 times the average amount of refunds issued annually during the past 9 years.

While the Office of Federal Tax Ombudsman is playing an increasingly critical role in addressing taxpayers’ grievances against tax maladministration, the problem is systemic and needs concerted efforts on the part of the Federal Board of Revenue.

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