Karachi, September 27, 2023 – Non-resident Pakistanis are encountering significant challenges as they attempt to file their income tax returns for the tax year 2023, primarily due to persistent glitches in the Federal Board of Revenue’s (FBR) online portal.
With the looming deadline for return filing on September 30, 2023, non-resident Pakistanis are grappling with issues within the online portal known as IRIS 2.0. The problems persist, despite the FBR’s recent launch of the IRIS 2 platform just before the departure of its previous Chairman.
IRIS 2.0 has been plagued by a series of serious glitches and errors, making it user-unfriendly and unreliable. Astonishingly, the system was not subjected to a pilot run before its launch, exacerbating the frustrations faced by taxpayers.
Numerous Tax Bar Associations across the country have drawn attention to severe errors and mistakes in IRIS 2, with some errors being rectified while new ones continue to surface at regular intervals. As a result, the process of filing tax returns this year has become a vexing experience for taxpayers.
A new issue has arisen specifically concerning non-resident taxpayers with Pakistan source income, such as small interest or dividend income. When filing their income tax returns, the previous Wealth Statement opens up, and it cannot be deleted. This action contradicts section 116(2) of the Income Tax Ordinance 2001, which mandates that only resident taxpayers are required to file a wealth statement. IRIS 2, in defiance of the law, forces non-resident taxpayers to file a Wealth Statement.
Tax experts argue that this not only constitutes a legal violation but also engenders anger and frustration among non-resident Pakistanis whose remittances to the country are a lifeline.
Some tax advisors speculate that internal politics within the FBR may be demotivating senior FBR staff, hindering their responsiveness to the issues faced by taxpayers and tax consultants. Compared to 4.2 million tax returns filed last year, only about 1.7 million tax returns have been filed to date.
Due to the serious technical glitches in IRIS 2, the process of filing tax returns has become increasingly frustrating and complex for both taxpayers and tax consultants. It is anticipated that the tax return filing deadline will be extended to October 31, 2023, and it is imperative that all glitches in IRIS 2 are rectified before this extension is granted.
It is worth noting that taxpayers have reported difficulties in reaching FBR’s helpline for assistance with their return filing queries. Furthermore, some tax practitioners have asserted that the Member IT of FBR was unavailable to provide explanations regarding the current status of IRIS.