Businessmen demand FBR for early clearance of pending tax refunds

ISLAMABAD, Apr 22 (INP): Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry has called upon the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to arrange early clearance of all outstanding tax refunds of business community as keeping such claims pending would shatter the confidence of businessmen in the tax machinery and would create more hurdles for improving tax revenue of the country.

Muzzamil Hussain Sabri, President, Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry said that tax refund claims of billions of rupees of traders and industrialists were lying pending in FBR and the tax authority was taking no tangible measures to clear these outstanding claims timely. He said all tax refund claims should be cleared within 3 months of the filing of a claim.

He said an FBR senior official has recently admitted before the National Assembly Standing Committee on Finance that sales tax refunds of around Rs.35-40 billion were pending with FBR while the fresh claims stood at Rs.65-70 billion. He said according to FBR own documents, the total amount of refunds in the year 2013-14 piled up to huge amount of more than Rs.104 billion showing an increase of around 12% as compared to the previous year’s figure.

He said this state of affairs showed that FBR was not ready to pay what it owed to the business community. Rather it was creating problems for the businessmen for the recovery of outstanding dues ostensibly just to meet the revenue targets of the government, which was highly unjustified.

Muzzamil Sabri said if a taxpayer was found defaulter, FBR wasted no time to subject him/her to penalties and attachment of bank accounts, but it was not paying the valid dues of taxpayers, which was totally an unfair approach. He stressed that there should be a level-playing field in this regard and FBR functionaries who fail to release the valid refunds of the businessmen should be held accountable as accountability would force them to expedite the payment of refunds.

He said that FBR was created to facilitate the businessmen in tax matters but its current approach was going against this purpose. He emphasized that FBR should focus on developing a fair taxation system to end all existing distortions & discriminations in tax regime.

He stressed that FBR should ensure timely release of payment against all valid refund claims that would improve the confidence of taxpayers and contribute positively to increasing the tax revenue of the country.