The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) is making all-out efforts by taking several steps to improve the disposal of tax litigation cases pending in different appellate forums through the Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee (ADRC).
These include the cases pending with Commissioners Inland Revenue (Appeals), Appellate Tribunal Inland Revenue, High Courts, and the Supreme Court of Pakistan.
FBR has launched the simplified process at the first Appeal, i.e., Commissioners Appeals level, through implementing the e-filing of appeals since January 1, 2021.
Through e-filing, taxpayers can file appeals against an appealable order online, without the hassle of going to their respective field office. Even before the launching of E-filing, the disposal of cases surpassed the assigned targets as per the Performance Agreement.
From July to December 2020, the target of disposal assigned to the CsIR (Appeals) was 7,818 appeals, against which a total of 17,768 appeals were disposed of, which is more than the target by a huge margin.
Similarly, on FBR’s request, special benches for the hearing of tax cases have been constituted by Sindh High Court, Lahore High Court, and Islamabad High Court for early hearings and speedy disposal of tax related cases.
In addition to that, a new policy has been introduced to induct competent lawyers so that government revenue is not left in the hands of amateur lawyers.
As a result of these ongoing efforts, in the last quarter (ending December 2020), 934 tax cases have been disposed of by the High Courts and the Supreme Court, with the revenue involved amounting to Rs. 81.7 billion.
Moreover, there are 1,240 cases with the revenue involved of Rs. 168.5 billion that has been decided by the Appellate Tribunal Inland Revenue during the same period.
It is also informed for the benefit of taxpayers’ that the institution of ADRC (Alternate Dispute Resolution Committee) has also been mobilized by virtue of which taxpayers’ are encouraged to get their cases settled through these committees in a much lesser time and without incurring litigation cost.
So far, on application by the taxpayers, 18 committees have started working for the resolution of cases.
FBR further clarifies that under a major facilitative change in law vide Finance Act-2020, an applicant taxpayer, to apply for the resolution of the case by ADRC, is not required to withdraw his case pending in any other appellate forum.
To win the trust of the taxpayers in this system, the law requires that members of ADRC apart from the relevant Chief Commissioner would also include respectable reputable judges, chartered accountants, and businessmen, nominated by chambers of commerce.
The committee is also empowered to stay the process of recovery in hardship cases. FBR also clarifies that taxpayers’ applications have to be finalized by the committee within a short period of 120 days, which in itself is a big relief considering the usual time taken in various appellate forums before a case attains finality.