LCCI objects to withholding tax, officials’ discretionary powers

LAHORE:Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) on Monday demanded the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) withdraw withholding tax on banking transactions and discretionary powers of the tax officials given under Sales Tax Act 38-B and 40-B as these issues are creating unrest among the business community.

These demands were made here at a traders convention under the umbrella of Lahore Chamber, while LCCI President Malik Tahir Javed, Senior Vice President Khawaja Khawar Rasheed, Amjad Ali Jawa, Nasir Hameed Khan, Tahir Manzoor Chaudhry, Fahim ur Rehman Saigol, Naeem Hanif, Mohammad Bashir and representatives of trade and industrial associations spoke on the occasion.

LCCI President said that withholding tax is discouraging new taxpayers and obstructing expansion of tax net. He said that chairmen of FBR, and Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Revenue should take immediate notice of this issue causing trust deficit between business community and the government.

Participants of the conventions warned that a new strategy will be evolved if these issues are not resolved by the end of this month.

They alleged that Section 40 & 38-B are being badly used by FBR staffers, who are visiting business premises and raising illegal tax demands without providing any supporting documents. They were of the view that teams from tax department should visit the markets if necessary, asserting that if there is an urgent need for stock taking and ascertaining the Sales Tax liability of any particular business unit, the FBR officials should take association concerned or the Lahore Chamber on board.

They said that FBR should not treat filers as non-filers and ones outside the tax net are not accounted for at all which discourages businesses to come into the tax net. Registered businesses are required to comply with various departments involving a lot of financial and time resources whereas unregistered businesses are free from all such hassles.

They said that there are 3.5 million registered taxpayers out of which only around one million file their tax returns. Government should take all the measures to ensure filing of returns by remaining 2.5 million individuals and businesses.

They said that attaching bank accounts for recovery of outstanding dues is hampering business growth, demanding that bank accounts should not be attached without prior notice to the taxpayer and after seeking approval in writing of Commissioner in the light of reply submitted by the taxpayer, and recovery should be made after the decision of the Tribunal.

They hoped that FBR will withdra withholding tax on banking transactions and unlimited discretionary powers to the tax official in the larger interest of the trade and industry.

Earlier, participants in the convention also staged a protest against withholding tax and misuse of discretionary powers.