LAHORE: Continuing with the government’s initiative to rebuild trust in public institutions, the second e-khuli kachehri was held on 13-08-2020. Business community across the city was engaged for unearthing hidden issues, seeking constructive suggestions and resolving long standing problems. Leaders of Anjuman e Tajran from Jallo More, Dharampura, Ravi Road, Shahdara, Azam Cloth Market, Johar Town, Ichra etc. actively participated in the session. The participants hailed from multifarious industries like plastic, leather, textile, electronics, timber etc.
The session started with the CCIR, RTO-II, Lahore Ahmad Shuja Khan’s explaining the concept and purpose behind E-Khuli Kachehris. He invited the participants to express their views openly so that misgivings could be removed and meaningful action be taken for continuous improvement of the tax machinery.
The traders expressed their concern about severe shrinkage of business volume by 40-50% due to the lockdown and slow recovery. They asked if any tax relief had been provided by the government.
Replying thereto, CCIR highlighted that government had already announced relief package for small businesses which included deferring of utility bills. Moreover, the taxpayers are entitled to file their returns accurately, in keeping with the business situation, and thereby pay lesser taxes in proportion to the loss of business volume.
One of the participants expressed grave concern over huge numbers of unregistered persons who operated out of the tax net and thereby enjoyed higher profit margins compared with the registered persons. He urged that tax authorities should bring these people in the tax net and quantum of industrial/commercial electricity bills can be used to identify potential cases. The CCIR concurred that equity is a very important pillar of any fair taxation system. He said that as per law industrial/commercial meter users are bound to register themselves under Sales Tax Act. He highlighted that field formations are doing their best to bring unregistered persons into the tax net; for which workshops have been held for salaried individual in various organizations. Unregistered /non-filers are also identified from withholding statements and issued notices for bringing them on tax rolls. He said that broadening drive had slowed down due to Covid-19 but will regain momentum once the conditions improve.
Another participant asked about: a) implications of omission of section 72B; and b) procedure of refund issuance. The CCIR replied that 12th Schedule has been inserted into the statute as a substitute for the old legal apparatus. Moreover, changes have also been made in section 148 of the Income Tax Ordinance, 2001, which in conjunction with SRO 717 of 2014 give an organic rounding off to the import regime. Addressing refund related query, CCIR informed that FBR is committed to issuing genuine refunds in line with the government’s policy. As long as a refund is legally admissible and is verifiable from the system, department processes it.
The meeting ended with the CCIR assuring the participants that he can be directly approached for resolution of any issue. The participants thanked the department for its proactive, taxpayer-centric efforts and lauded the government’s positive initiative for restoration of trust through E-Khuli Kachehri.