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Revenue Board sets up body to resolve sales tax issues

KARACHI (November 07 2003): A four-member co-ordination committee at the board level has been constituted by the Central Board of Revenue (CBR) to help resolve the issues pertaining to sales tax.

The CBR has notified the constitution of the committee, which will be headed by the member (Sales Tax) and include two Vice-Presidents of the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI), ie Sheikh Maqbool Ahmed and Engr. M A Jabbar.The co-ordination committees at levels of Sales Tax Collectors and CBR member have been set up on the recommendations of the FPCCI.

Businessmen had been agitating that the provisions, contained in the sales tax law, did not balance the interests of taxpayers against the discretionary and over-stepping powers exercised by the tax collectors, outsourcing from the provisions of the sales tax law.

Before the announcement of budgets, the FPCCI, on the suggestions of trade bodies, had been asking for deletions and suitable amendments of certain provisions of the sales tax law, application of which by the sales tax officials had been considered to be extra-legal and non-judicious, providing exception for meeting the satisfactory requirements before taking action under the said provisions.

According to a FPCCI source, the Finance Bill before last year provided an amendment by inserting a section for dispute settlements called dispute resolution contained in the Act.

Before the 2003-2004 budget announcement, the FPCCI had demanded removal of certain provisions of sales tax law as the same were available in the other laws of the land in force for taking action as the case may be.

The sections like allowing search of business premises without warrants, arrests and seizing documents beyond the scope of credentials involved in sales tax-based transactions are considered irritating provisions for which the FPCCI had asked for suitable amendments and the deletion to make the law tax-friendly, balancing the interests of the taxpayers and tax collectors.

However, the CBR time and again had assured judicious and careful use of these provisions, further promising the taking of actions under the provisions after clearance and scrutiny by the high officials including CBR itself.

The FPCCI had written a letter to the Finance Minister, who agreed to involve the private sector to ensure the careful use of these provisions by the Sales Tax Department, by accepting the proposal of the FPCCI to form co-ordination committees at the collectorate and CBR levels.

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