President Dr Arif Alvi has apologised to an elderly taxpayer over Federal Board of Revenue’s (FBR) ill-treatment of him, while directing the department’s chief to take action against those responsible for this.
Abdul Hamid Khan, 82, had claimed a refund of Rs2,333 on his income tax for the fiscal year 2020, and had submitted the requisite documents. His complaint, which was filed on October 19, 2020, was followed up by representation to the FBR chairman on December 24, 2020. However, the unit officer rejected his refund claim on January 29, 2021, saying that the applicant failed to furnish original certificates for authentication.
Khan then took the matter with the federal tax ombudsman (FTO) for redressal of his complaint, who ordered the FBR on June 2, 2021, to revisit the impugned order, and to pass a fresh order under Section 170(4) of the ordinance. It also ordered proceedings against those responsible for prolonging the case within 45 days. Subsequently, FBR filed a representation with the president against the original order of FTO on June 24, 2021.
Apologising to the senior citizen, the president said that their heads hung in shame for the inconvenience caused to the elderly taxpayer by FBR. He directed the FBR chief to look into the entire system of “irresponsibility and corruption”.
“Punitive action must be taken along the entire line of decision-makers in this case, and FBR chairman should ensure that those responsible, in particular, and others in general, go through courses to teach them priorities and courtesies,” he said.
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Rejecting the FBR’s appeal, he said that it appeared that unlawful treatment meted out to the senior citizen was meant to humiliate him. He upheld the FTO’s decision, noting that the complainant had furnished copies of advance tax, which as per certificates, was collected by telephone authorities. He asserted that if the unit officer was not satisfied with the copies of the certificates, he could have gotten them verified from the companies as it is the duty of duty officer to seek verification.
He said that the officer was “shrinking from responsibility” and termed this incident an “act of maladministration”. He said that the officer’s act was a “mockery and travesty of law, procedure and instructions of FBR”.
He said that this must be the most “pitiful and shameful” use of bureaucratic authority, adding that the official wasted the time of the department, FTO and the presidency over a “paltry sum of Rs2,333”, and the matter lingered on for over a year.
He also deplored that no one in “long chain of bureaucrats” in FBR deliberated over the issue, and took note of “unfairness, pettiness and superfluousness of the matter”.
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