National tax appeal programme to be devised

ISLAMABAD (October 25 2003): For speedy processing of appeals involving revenue matters, the Central Board of Revenue (CBR) will devise a “national appeal programme” to facilitate the taxpayers.

Official sources told Business Recorder here on Friday that the CBR was actively considering a proposal of foreign consultant to develop a comprehensive appeal and adjudication strategy.

The programme would particularly promote better relationship between the taxpayers and tax officials and check the delaying tactics adopted by the taxpayers during adjudication proceedings.

Under the plan, the CBR would also extend the Alternative Dispute Resolution System for all levies for resolving disputes of small nature.

It would also cover complicated audit and contravention reports of the auditors to make them more transparent, which would help in early resolution of the tax cases.

The complete information would benefit the taxpayers to understand whether he intends to file an appeal or not.

Details revealed that the appeals and dispute resolution process is generally characterised by mutual distrust between the taxpayers and the CBR. In part, the existing systems of adjudication have been used by some appellants as a means of delaying payment of tax or penalties that have been adjudged by the CBR.

Taxpayers, using these delaying tactics, have sometimes also take advantage of the fact that some auditors have failed to give full and clear details, including copies of working papers of the computations of the amounts to be paid, and the reasons behind them. As a result, there are a number of cases pending in the appeals system.

The sources said that the situation was compounded by inherent time constraints in the whole appeals and adjudication process that prolong adjudication for up to two years. One such constraint stems from opaque or incomplete information provided by the CBR.

Specifically, the auditors often fail to deliver audit reports/contravention reports with full and clear details on the computation of amounts of tax involved, the provisions of law violated, and the penal clauses under which penalties are proposed, etc. Without such details, the expeditious disposal of adjudication/appeals cases is severely hindered.

Furthermore, there is lack of knowledge among the CBR staff regarding newly decided cases and precedence cases.

This result in a number of tax decisions not upheld by the appeal bodies. As such, the large number of annulled or modified tax decisions lessens the efficiency and the credibility of the CBR.

The new appeal programme would cover all these shortcomings in the existing system through the office of member legal, the sources added.

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