•   Monday, 30 Jan, 2023

FTO protects low-paid PTV employees from unfair taxation

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LAHORE: Federal Tax Ombudsman (FTO) Dr Asif Mahmood Jah has protected the low-paid employees of Pakistan Television (PTV) from excessive and unfair taxation juggernauts. The low-paid employees of PTV had approached the FTO, pleading against excessive tax deductions.

It may be noted that the FTO has granted a similar relief to the contractual employees of Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation (PBC) earlier.

The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) conceded the wrongdoing and not only implemented the FTO’s recommendations but also widely circulated its findings for the collective good.

The low-paid employees of PTV were employed as full-timers since as late as 1991 and were subjected to excessive and harsher tax deductions of 10 to 20 percent per annum. Ironically, the highly paid contract employees of the same organization were paying fewer taxes, a situation that tantamounts to arbitrary and discriminatory taxation.

The low-paid PTV employees also established the fact that their appointment was fit to all the standards of regular employment. The FTO maintained that all the conditions are immaterial in terms of a tax deduction if the wages and fee received by the complainants is covered under the definition of salary u/s 12 of the Income Tax Ordinance.

The FTO further pointed out in its recommendation that it has been established that the complainants, who have been hired by PTV as supervisors, translators over the last few decades as low paid employees and they are entitled to a similar relief which has been allowed to the employees of PBC in other similar cases.

Excessive and harsh deduction of tax from their meager salaries u/s 153(1 )(b) of the Ordinance is against the dictates of the law and the nature of the treatment being discriminatory, tantamount to maladministration in terms of Section 2(3)(i)(b) of the FTO Ordinance, 2000.

Accordingly, the FTO directed the FBR to ensure that the low-paid complainants/employees of PTV are not burdened with excessive tax deductions at the withholding stage. It further added that the FBR should implement its recommendations and findings in liaison with PTV’s management on the lines already done by the management of PBC and report back compliance of the same within 45 days.

It may be noted that the FTO had also mentioned the said case in his public awareness programme at the Governor House in Lahore in the presence of President Dr Arif Alvi. The FTO has invited the employees of other departments to approach his office in case they are facing similar maladministration by the FBR.

President Dr Arif Alvi also eulogized the efforts of the FTO in protecting the employees of various departments from excessive and unfair taxation. He also lauded the FTO’s efforts to reduce the disposal time from 60 to 40 days.

Meanwhile, the members of the PTV Union have also called on the FTO and expressed their gratitude for protecting the low-paid employees from excessive taxation.