Lawyers get stay on paying sales tax

ISLAMABAD: Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has been barred by the Islamabad High Court (IHC) from taking any action against lawyers refusing to pay sales tax.

The court said that the revenue body should clear ambiguities in the threshold for tax registration and declared the tax as confiscatory on lawyers having low income.

Chief Justice Ather Minallah was presiding over a case relating to the imposition of sales tax on lawyers.

During the proceeding, the court asked FBR Chief Sales Tax Abdul Hameed, whether there was any threshold for sales tax on lawyers to which he replied that no threshold had been prescribed under the law.

Lawyers coming together in support of Justice Isa

Minahllah inquired about whether there was any threshold prescribed for mandatory registration for other professionals such as manufacturers of taxable goods. At this, the official replied that threshold for manufacturers was Rs3 million. He added that levy, in order to fulfill mandatory requirements of Sales Tax Act 1990, was unreasonable in the current case.

The court remarked that unstructured tax on lawyers was discriminatory as there was no minimum point mentioned as a threshold for registration.

Meanwhile, the FBR official stated that he would raise the court’s concern before the related authorities for an appropriate decision.

The court noted that most young lawyers entering the profession would find the tax as ‘confiscatory’ merely for meeting mandatory requirements of Sales Tax Act and directed the FBR to explain discrimination between professionals and other categories in order to justify a discriminatory treatment regarding minimum threshold.

The court barred FBR from taking any action against legal practitioners until ambiguity relating threshold for tax registration was clarified.

Lawyers’ groups throw weight behind Justice Isa

The court adjourned the case until first week of October which will be heard by Justice Amir Farooq.

Ad hoc management

The IHC ordered the establishment division secretary to appoint an ad hoc chairman of Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (PARC) until a permanent ones is appointed.

IHC Chief Justice Ather Minallah heard the case regarding the appointment of PARC chairman.

During the proceeding, Minallah remarked that the additional secretary of Ministry of National Food Security was looking after the day-to-day affairs of the council even though his period as chairman under temporary arrangement had already lapsed in August.

The chief justice observed that PARC Assistant Director (legal) Zahid Akram failed to satisfy the court about why the additional secretary was still authorised to run daily affairs of the council after his appointment period of three months.

Further, the court in its verdict said that the Deputy Attorney General (DAG) informed the court that no decision so far had been taken regarding the appointment of the PARC chairman as the summary submitted by the concerned ministry was pending before the prime minister.

Meanwhile, the court directed establishment division secretary to expedite the recruitment process of the new chairman and in the meanwhile, make arrangements for managing day to day affairs of the council by appointing an able official on the seat.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 22nd, 2019.

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