Curtailing powers of tax officers in recovery, entering premises suggested

Curtailing powers of tax officers in recovery, entering premises suggested

KARACHI: Business community has suggested curtailing powers of tax officers while invoking provisions of sales tax laws.

Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) in its proposals for budget 2020/2021 demanded curtailing powers of tax officers.

The FPCCI highlighted the issue that the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) or the Chief Commissioner is vested with the discretionary power to post Inland Revenue Officers at the premises of the registered person to monitor production, sales of goods and stock position etc., for an indefinite time period and without assigning any reason, as already ordered by the Supreme Court.

Therefore, it is proposed that the powers of section 40B of Sales Tax Act, 1990 (Posting of IR Officers at Business Premises) may be exercised by the department after approval of Chairman or Member Operations IRS.

The apex trade body also highlighted the issue that there are increased incidences of bank account attachment and other serious coercive measures taken by the tax officer under the garb of section 48 for recovery of arrears. Any such abuse of powers creates mistrust.

It is proposed that all cases should be decided as per the strict interpretation of law. Section 48 should not be exercised unless the case under litigation has undergone First appellate stage. After first stage approval of the chairman should be required for attachment of bank account.

The FPCCI said that the discretionary powers given under Sales Tax Act, 1990 and Income Tax Ordinances, 2011 have empowered FBR official to exert pressure on business community tax payers e.g. Sales Tax Act Section 38B and 40B. Section 175(1) & (2) of Income Tax Ordinance 2001 empowers the officials to enter and search the premises while they are authorized to obtain information under Section 176 of Income Tax Ordinance 2001.

Discretionary powers under aforementioned sections may be exercised after approval of FBR Member or Chairman.