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The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has begun punishing taxpayers who file complaints with the Federal Tax Ombudsman (FTO) against the FBR. The FTO has issued a unique type of order where illegal notices have been sent to taxpayers who have approached the FTO against FBR maladministration.

Drawing from Section 9(1) of the FTO Ordinance, the FTO initiated an Own Motion investigation in response to reports of malpractice. The FTO’s order emphasized the need for the FBR’s top management to carefully consider the implications, as the likelihood of further misconduct is now minimal. Pursuing taxpayers without solid legal grounds constitutes harassment, a perception that needs immediate rectification. Any unlawful pursuit of taxpayers after filing a complaint with the FTO will be thoroughly investigated, with appropriate findings provided.

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The FTO’s order also highlighted the lack of thoughtful consideration by FBR officers, noting a tendency towards mechanical responses and attributing errors to technical oversights or system glitches. Instances where taxpayer requests were ignored, refunds rejected without proper review, and penalties issued hastily were cited as examples of unprofessional conduct, exacerbating the trust deficit between taxpayers and the FBR.

Instructions from the FTO office to the FBR emphasized the observed mistreatment of taxpayers who file complaints, including receiving multiple frivolous notices under various statutory provisions. Such actions aim to discourage complaints and erode confidence in the FTO institution. In one case (Complaint No.0776/KHI/IT/2022), a taxpayer complained of receiving penalty notices while their request for sales tax return filing remained unresolved for over four months. This unreasonable treatment, including rejecting refund requests without a fair hearing, undermines trust in the FTO’s ability to address taxpayer grievances effectively.

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