LAHORE: In order to strengthen government’s initiative for public outreach, the third E-Khuli Kachehri was held on 11-09-2020. Taxpayers falling within RTO’s jurisdiction were engaged for addressing their concerns and resolving tax related problems. The participants were a healthy mix of various sectors including retail trade, automotive, hardware, advertising etc. Their business concerns were situated in major manufacturing and trading hubs of Lahore and adjacent areas, including Sundar Industrial Estate, Brandreth Road, Hafeez Center, Shahalam Market, Mall Road etc.
The session started with the CCIR, RTO-II, Lahore viz., Ahmad Shuja Khan’s explaining the concept and purpose behind E-Khuli Kachehris. He invited the participants to express their views, apprehensions and problems in a frank and free manner since the government was totally committed to removing impediments being faced by the taxpayers and make discernible improvement in ease of doing business. Starting the session, one of the participants highlighted problems being faced by the business concerns functioning within Sundar Industrial Estate since they were not being allowed to get their STRN reflected on the electricity bills—thereby depriving them of the genuine input tax credits. This problem was reiterated by other taxpayers.
The CCIR informed the participants that claiming credit for genuine input tax in accordance with the law was every taxpayer’s right. He said that management of the Industrial Estate shall be contacted to ascertain as to what has led to such a situation and necessary remedial measures shall be taken on priority. He also directed the relevant Zonal Commissioner to give personal attention for a quick resolution.
Another participant asked as to what relief was being provided to the restaurant sector in the wake of devastating Covid-19 pandemic. The CCIR clarified that the government has tried to make sure that tax burden is not overly enhanced through introduction of substantial new taxes. Additionally, now restaurants can Carry forward losses for upto eight years, as compared with six years mandated earlier. Since the restaurants file. voluntary declarations and are at liberty to reflect actual business position, a downturn in business shall lead to corresponding decrease in tax liability. It was also suggested by the participant that FBR should enter into formal collaboration with trade bodies so that the latter could play active role in public awareness campaigns.
The CCIR said that entering formal collaborations is FBR’s policy decision and the relevant authorities can explore the modalities of this proposed cooperation. He added that FBR welcomes and appreciates the positive role trade bodies continue to play in spreading tax awareness. It was also suggested that FBR should have sector Specific information to make it easily navigable for various sectors to seek guidance in respect of issues specific to them. The CCIR appreciated this useful suggestion and assured that the same shall be conveyed to the domain team for further planning and required action.
One of the participants highlighted problems generally faced with regard to NTN & SRTN registrations and correction of CPRs. The CCIR pointed out that there is minimal requirement of documentation for NTN registration and the process is also online— which makes it both easy and accessible. Moreover, the RTO helpdesk actively assists all prospective taxpayers seeking to obtain registrations. As far as obtaining STRN is concerned, the process is more elaborate with reasonable checks and balances to minimize risks of fraud and eventual loss to national exchequer. Additional steps for STRN processing are part of due diligence and uniformly applied to all applicants. CPR correction is an easy process and quickly accomplished if necessary documents are provided and verifications made. The main aim here is to prevent misuse of CPR.
Another participant inquired if refund issuance by FBR is exporter focused or others can also apply. He further added that advance Sales Tax deposited before filing ST return, if overpaid, cannot be adjusted subsequently. This deprives taxpayer from utilizing the benefit of amount paid in excess. The CCIR replied that refunds are to be and being issued to all the taxpayer as per the legal entitlement, and are not restricted to exporters only. With regard to the second part of the question, the CCIR stated that facility to adjust excess amount paid through a CPR is a valid suggestion and shall be conveyed to the domain team for remedial measures. He assured that he will get back to the taxpayer after receiving input from the FBR headquarters.
In the end, CCIR assured the participants regarding his availability for resolution of genuine problems. The participants thanked the department for its vigorous efforts in extending useful help and full cooperation to the taxpayers.