Industrialists and traders Saturday again staged a strong protest against raids at business premises and misuse of discretionary powers by the tax officials under section 30 & 40-B despite clear instructions of Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Chairman Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and announced to choose all options including closures of businesses and protests in front of FBR offices.
The LCCI Senior Vice President Amjad Ali Jawa, Vice President Muhammad Nasir Hameed Khan, Mian Anjum Nisar, Sohail Lashari, Tahir Javed Malik and Aftab Ahmed Vohra spoke on the occasion while Mian Anjum Nisar, Zafaq Iqbal Ch, Mian Nauman Kabir, Shafqat Saeed Piracha, Aftab Ahmed Vohra, Syed Mahmood Ghaznavi, Kashif Anwar, Zeeshan Khalil, Mian Abdul Razzaq, Moazzam Rasheed, Adnan Khalid Butt, rizwan Akhter Shamsi, Ibrahim Qureshi, Zahid Maqsood Butt, Mian Muhammad Nawaz, Khawaja Khawar Rasheed, Tahir Manzoor, Syed Mukhtar Ali, Ch. Khadam Hussain, Muhammad Shahzad, Zafar Mahmood, Waqar Ahmed Mian and various other were present on the occasion.
The participants of the meeting said that FBR staff has torn into pieces the orders of Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Chairman FBR and conducing raids without taking Lahore Chamber and other trade bodies on board. They said that Section 40 & 38-B are being badly used by the FBR staff. They are visiting business premises to harass the business community. They not only take shocking measures to raise illegal tax demands without providing any supporting document but also carry all the available records with them. The participants of the meeting were of the view that teams from tax department should visit the markets, if indispensable, but they should immediately stop harassing business community. They said that if there is an urgent need for stock taking and ascertaining the Sales Tax liability of any particular business unit, the FBR officials should take association concerned or the Lahore Chamber on board.
They said that indirect taxes are being removed gradually throughout the world here in Pakistan these are contributing around 60 percent to the revenue despite the fact that expenses on this practice are higher than the collections.
All the participants said that FBR should stop harassing filers as non-filers and ones outside the tax net are not accounted for at all which discourages businesses to come into the tax net. Registered businesses are required to comply with various departments involving a lot of financial and time resources whereas unregistered businesses are free from all such hassles.
They said that there are 3.5 million registered taxpayers out of which only around 1 million file their tax returns. Government should take all the measures to ensure filing of returns by remaining 2.5 million individuals and businesses. The government claims that it always acts as a facilitator but in this scenario it is entirely otherwise.
They said that attaching bank accounts for recovery of outstanding dues is hampering business growth and tarnishing the business-friendly image of the government. They said that bank accounts should not be attached without prior notice to the taxpayer and after seeking approval in writing of Commissioner in the light of reply submitted by the taxpayer. The recovery should be after the decision of the Tribunal and not before that.
They said that unfortunately if the FBR initiates a recovery case, the taxpayer is not allowed to defend as FBR itself is the complainant and a judge. Instead of focusing on controlling under-invoicing, curbing smuggling and expanding the tax net, the FBR seems to be inclined to pressurize registered taxpayers who are already suffering due to high rate of sales tax, income tax and Custom duties by creating fictitious cases for recovery of outstanding dues to meet revenue target.
They announced to stage protest in front of FBR Head Office if undue raids are not stopped immediately.