The Federal Tax Ombudsman (FTO) has expressed serious concern over the launching of the new version of the “IRIS” for return filing without proper testing through the pilot launch, creating hardship for the users.
FTO has initiated its own motion investigation on errors and omissions with respect to the updated version of Iris 2.0 launched by FBR.
Recently, FBR launched IRIS 2.0 on July 27, 2023, by introducing a new version for filing tax returns.
Statedly, it was claimed that the new system would significantly result in enhanced efficiency and cost-saving. However, this Secretariat received a number of complaints from various stakeholders who raised issues about multiple errors and omissions in the new version of Iris.
It seems that the changes have been introduced in haste without a pilot launch and no testing and quality assurance have been ensured as required in software development standard procedures. Moreover, there are no user guides available about the new changes made in this system.
The facts showed that the updated version of Iris had many errors and omissions which created a lot of inconvenience for the users. Although many of the errors have been removed after the intervention of this office, however, the 03 errors as stated above are still pending corrective action.
Therefore, it is found that the new version was launched without proper testing through pilot launch which is a departure from the established practice and created hardship for the users. Such omissions departures and errors constitute maladministration in terms of Section 2(3)(i)(a) and (ii) of the FTO Ordinance, 2000.
While examining the Iris portal home page, it is observed that after login, the portal opens a page that contains as many as 08 boxes in different colors showing different options such as filing of income tax return, filing of sales tax return, and sales tax invoice management, filing of withholding statement besides creating payments option.
All options relating to sales tax are irrelevant for a person who has accessed the system to file an income tax return. Even the sales tax invoice management and withholding statement options would create confusion for income tax filers.
However, it is observed that it is over one year since the benefit of a 100% deduction of depreciation allowance was made available to the taxpayer but no corresponding change has been made by FBR in the Iris system to date to ensure the correct calculation of depreciation to the concerned taxpayers.
FTO has recommended the FBR to direct Member (Information & Technology) to take corrective measures and add an explanation/description to the MIS Tab and Maloomat folder for clarity for users within 15 days.
The FBR should direct Member (IT) to add appropriate navigational aid for the logical hierarchy of the user’s journey back and forth within 15 days and also (iii) direct Member (IT) to take measures to streamline the system to allow correct calculation of admissible depreciation within 15 days.
The Member (IT) should also remove sales tax filing options not relevant for filers of income tax returns. Besides tooltip help for icons such as the logout option be provided within 15 days.
The Member (IT) should strictly follow, in the future, SOPs of software launch by announcing the new launch first followed by a pilot launch for quality assurance before final implementation to avoid errors and omissions as a large number of the general public is affected by such lapses, FTO order added.