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KTBA Raises Concerns Over Half-Hearted Documentation Efforts by FBR

In a seminar held on April 18, 2024, the Karachi Tax Bar Association (KTBA) voiced its concerns over what it perceives as half-hearted efforts by the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) towards the documentation of the economy.

The seminar, focused on countering fake invoices through SRO 350 of 2024 and the Tajir Dost Scheme under SRO 457 of 2024, saw prominent figures within the tax community shedding light on the loopholes and practical challenges posed by these regulations.

President of KTBA, Syed Zafar Ahmed, took center stage to address the attendees, highlighting significant shortcomings in the laws introduced by the FBR through SROs. Zafar emphasized the impracticality of the rules implemented by the FBR, particularly criticizing the manual compliance requirements under SRO 350 of 2024.

He pointed out the cumbersome conditions introduced by this notification, including the untimely submission of balance sheets, turnover: capital ratio permissions, and the approval process for credit notes. Zafar labeled the earlier experience of taxpayers facing tax officials for these approvals as a “nightmare,” emphasizing the impractical and push back approach adopted by the FBR.

Turning his attention to SRO 457 of 2024, Zafar criticized the timing chosen by the FBR for feedback on the draft law. With the seven-day feedback window coinciding with the holy month of Ramazan, including weekends, Zafar argued that the allocated time was insufficient for stakeholders to provide meaningful input. He acknowledged the feedbck from Seminar which are important before writing a letter to FBR.

Earlier in the seminar, Zeeshan Merchant, former president of KTBA, delved into the complexities surrounding the Tajir Dost Scheme. Merchant posed several critical questions regarding the scheme’s implementation, particularly concerning the registration of traders and shopkeepers. He raised concerns about the lack of clarity regarding whether landlords or tenants (traders) should be registered under the scheme and the treatment of business premises that are not actively utilized. Additionally, Merchant highlighted the absence of a prescribed formula for calculating indicative income based on annual rental values, further complicating compliance for small traders and shopkeepers.

Muhammad Tarique, Senior Manager at Moore Shekha Mufti, added to the discussion by highlighting glitches in the amendments made to the Sales Tax Rules, 2006, through SRO 350 of 2024. Tarique pointed out ambiguities surrounding the submission of balance sheets and questioned the lack of clarity on the filing dates for sales tax returns. He also raised concerns regarding the requirement for commissioner approval for issuing credit notes to unregistered persons, highlighting inconsistencies with the main law.

The seminar underscored the growing discontent within the tax community regarding the FBR’s documentation efforts through manual control and approvals. Stakeholders expressed frustration over the impracticalities and ambiguities present in the recent regulations, calling for more clarity and streamlined processes to facilitate compliance and provide a more conducive business environment. As the debate continues, all eyes are on the FBR to address these concerns.

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