PTBA Lambasts FBR’s Remarks on Lawyers in Tajir Dost Scheme

PTBA Lambasts FBR’s Remarks on Lawyers in Tajir Dost Scheme

Karachi, April 6, 2024 – The Pakistan Tax Bar Association (PTBA) has voiced its strong disapproval of recent statements made by the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) regarding the involvement of tax lawyers in the newly introduced Tajir Dost Scheme, a tax simplification initiative aimed at shopkeepers and traders.

In a letter addressed to Finance Minister Muhammad Aurangzeb, PTBA President Anwar Kashif Mumtaz expressed concern over the FBR’s assertion that individuals do not need to pay fees or seek legal counsel for registration under the scheme. Mumtaz contended that such remarks unfairly place blame on members of the tax bar association, implying that lawyers are hindering the implementation of the scheme.

“The fundamental right of an individual to engage a lawyer for legal assistance at a mutually agreed-upon fee cannot be undermined,” asserted Mumtaz. He cited relevant sections of the Income Tax Ordinance, 2001, and the Civil Procedure Code, which recognize the role of lawyers as authorized representatives to represent taxpayers before the FBR and appellate forums.

The PTBA demanded the immediate removal of the announcement, warning that it could undermine the scheme’s effectiveness and potentially harm its outcomes. Mumtaz urged the government and FBR to refrain from marginalizing any profession for the sake of a publicity drive lacking substance.

Echoing PTBA’s concerns, members of the Rawalpindi Islamabad Tax Bar Association passed a resolution condemning the FBR’s statement. While acknowledging the possibility that the FBR’s intention may have been to simplify the registration process, the resolution emphasized the invaluable contributions of the legal community to the tax system of Pakistan.

The resolution highlighted various roles performed by tax lawyers, including educating the community about tax laws, conducting compliance seminars, providing personalized consultations, and collaborating with local media for tax-related programs. Additionally, it underscored the pro bono services offered by tax lawyers to support low-income individuals and assist less literate taxpayers in compliance.

The PTBA’s response underscores the broader issue of the role and recognition of legal expertise in governance and policymaking. While efforts to streamline processes and make them more accessible are commendable, it is crucial to acknowledge the indispensable role of legal professionals in ensuring fair and just implementation.

In light of the PTBA’s concerns and the resolution passed by the Rawalpindi Islamabad Tax Bar Association, there is a need for dialogue and collaboration between the FBR and legal community to address any misunderstandings and ensure that policies and statements accurately reflect the contributions and significance of legal expertise in the tax system.