FTO Directs PTCL and FBR to Settle Customer’s Refund Claim

The Federal Tax Ombudsman (FTO) has disposed of the complaint of a Pakistan Telecommunication Company Ltd. (PTCL) customer and has told the PTCL to issue a tax deduction certificate. It has also directed the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to settle the complainant’s refund claim.

PTCL Islamabad had raised a preliminary objection in the subject complaint against the non-provision of withholding tax deduction certificate filed to the FTO that the latter has no jurisdiction in cases of maladministration at federally controlled bodies as the jurisdiction lies only with the Federal Ombudsman.

It further contended that the complainant has already availed of the forum of the Federal Ombudsman on the same subject matter as that of the instant complaint, and the Federal Ombudsman closed the matter in PTCL’s favor.

However, the FTO has observed that the agency is not justified in questioning its jurisdiction in terms of Section 9(2)(b) of the FTO Ordinance. It was because the complainant had requested PTCL to issue a tax deduction certificate for the period from March 2000 to June 2011 for which he intends to lodge a claim for a refund with the FBR. He had also availed of the arbitration of the FTO for the issuance of a refund on account of a tax deduction under Section 236(1)(a).

The FTO’s findings also stated that the PTCL is bound to facilitate the complainant/taxpayer by issuing the required deduction certificate under consumer/customer facilitation. Moreover, PTCL deducts tax on behalf of the FBR, and the issuance of tax withholding statements/certificates is also mandatory for withholding agents under the tax laws.

As a custodian of taxpayers’ rights, the FTO cannot sit idle in a situation where, on the one hand, it denies a tax deduction claim filed by the complainant while quoting non-submission of withholding certificate; and on the other hand, PTCL is neither issuing the certificate nor denying the complainant’s claim.

The sanctity of the rights of citizens is guaranteed by the Constitution which supersedes all other laws, and it is too serious of an affair to be diluted on technical grounds.

Therefore, the Tax Ombudsman has directed the FBR to ensure that the Inland Revenue (IR) field formation – Large Taxpayers Office (LTO) Islamabad – while holding jurisdiction over PTCL, must resolve the instant issue through coordination with PTCL.

Meanwhile, PTCL’s authorities have been required via u/s 23(1) of the FTO Ordinance, 2000 to provide assistance and facilitate the issuance of the subject tax deduction certificate for the period March 2000 to June 2011 against PTCL number 061-6536262 to the complainant to enabling the complainant to lodge his refund claim with the FBR.

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