The Office of the Federal Tax Ombudsman was established by Establishment of the Office of Federal Tax Ombudsman Ordinance, 2000 promulgated by the President on 11.8.2000.
“To diagnose, investigate, redress and rectify any injustice done to a person through mal-administration by functionaries administering tax laws”.
The term “mal-administration” includes:
(i) a decision, process, recommendation, act of omission or commission which-
(a) is contrary to law, rules or regulations or is a departure from established practice or procedure, unless it is bona fide and for valid reasons;
(b) is perverse, arbitrary or unreasonable, unjust, biased, oppressive, or discriminatory;
(c) is based on irrelevant grounds; or
(d) involves the exercise of powers, or the failure or refusal to do so, for corrupt or improper motives, such as bribery, jobbery, favouritism, nepotism and administrative excesses;
(ii) neglect, inattention, delay, incompetence, inefficiency and ineptitude, in the administration or discharge of duties and responsibilities;
(ii) repeated notices, unnecessary attendance or prolonged hearings while deciding cases involving-
(a) assessment of income or wealth;
(b) determination of liability of tax or duty;
(c) classification or valuation of goods;
(d) settlement of claims or refund, rebate or duty drawback; or
(e) determination of fiscal and tax concessions or exemptions.
(iv) wilful errors in the determination of refunds, rebates or duty drawbacks;
(v) deliberate withholding or non-payment or refunds, rebates or drawbacks already determined by the competent authority;
(vi) coercive methods of tax recovery in cases where default payment of tax or duty is not apparent from record; and
(vii) avoidance of disciplinary action against an officer or official whose order of assessment or valuation is held by a competent appellate authority to be vindictive, capricious, biased or patently illegal.
(i) Independent from executive.
All executive authorities throughout Pakistan shall act in aid of the Federal Tax Ombudsman.
(ii) Easy accessibility to the complainant.
(iii) Impartiality and fairness.
(iv) Credibility of review process.
(v) Quick disposal.
(vi) Implementation of recommendation, decision or order of Federal Tax Ombudsman mandatory duty of Central Board of Revenue.
The jurisdiction of the Federal Tax Ombudsman (FTO) extends to all Federal Taxes and the Revenue Division being the administrative unit responsible for the conduct of the business of the Federal Government, its Offices and agencies.
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Exercise of jurisdiction
The jurisdiction can be exercised by the FTO:
i) On a complaint by an aggrieved party,
ii) On a reference by the President,
iii) On a reference by the Senate.
iv) On reference by the National Assembly,
v) On a motion of the Supreme Court in a proceeding pending before it.
vi) On a motion of the High Court in a proceeding before it.
vii) On his own motion.
The jurisdiction cannot be exercised into matters, which are
(i) subjudice or
(ii) relate to assessment of income, wealth, duty tax liability classification or valuation of goods, interpretation of law rules and regulation in respect of which remedies of appeal reviews or revision are available under the law and
(iii) service matter of the employees or Revenue Division. It has however been observed in various decisions by FTO that where allegations of maladministration are made independent of the subjudice issues or matters specified in para (ii), the FTO will have jurisdiction to investigate into alleged maladministration.
Procedure for approach:
(i) Any aggrieved person can send his application/letter duly attested on solemn affirmation written on a plain paper. Anonymous or pseudonymous complaints are not entertained.
Compliant should be filed not later than six months from the date complainant had notice of the matter. In special circumstances time can be extended by FTO.
After scrutiny of complaint notice is issued to Central Board of Revenue (CBR) for reply. On receipt of reply hearing is fixed and mostly cases are disposed on in 60 days except those, which require recording of evidence or involve deeper investigation. Federal Tax Ombudsman makes Recommendation/Finding.
Implementation of Recommendation/Finding:
Unlike similar statutes, this Ordinance provides:
“It shall be the duty of the Revenue Division and Tax Employees to implement the findings made under Sections 11 and 12 within thirty days of such decision being communicated to the concerned Tax Employees”.
If the CBR fails to comply with the Recommendation/Findings within the specified time or does not give reason to the satisfaction of the Federal Tax Ombudsman it is treated as Defiance of Recommendation.
If there is a defiance of Recommendation by a Tax Employee
(i) The Federal Tax Ombudsman may refer the matter to the President who may in his discretion direct the Revenue Division to implement.
(ii) A report by the Federal Tax ombudsman shall become part of personal file or character roll of the Tax Employee primarily responsible for defiance.
(iii) Such Tax Employee shall be liable for contempt.
The Federal Tax Ombudsman has the same powers as the Supreme Court has to punish any person for its contempt.
Powers of the Federal Tax Ombudsman:
(i) To summon witness and examination on oath.
(ii) compel the production of documents.
(iii) require evidence on affidavit.
(iv) issue commission.
(v) Enter and search premises and inspect documents.
(vi) Impound or seal article, documents or book of account.
Standing or Advisory Committee and studies.
The Federal Tax Ombudsman may establish standing or advisory Committee; create studies to consider and report on causes of maladministration, elimination of corrupt practices and systemic reforms.
Annual Report is to be submitted by the Federal Tax Ombudsman to the President.
Any person aggrieved by the finding/Recommendation of the Federal Tax Ombudsman can file representation to the President.
Informal Resolution of Dispute
The Federal Tax Ombudsman is authorised to informally conciliate, amicably resolve stipulate settle or ameliorate any grievance without written memorandum, docketing or issuing any official notice.
No court or other authority shall have jurisdiction to question the validity of any action taken or intended to be taken nor any stay or injunction can be granted.
From the beginning so far 2770 complaints have been filed and 2124 have been decided.