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Ombudsman stops excise department to collect tax from riksha drivers

Lahore: Provincial Ombudsman Khalid Mahmood while declaring collection of income tax and professional tax during registration of rickshaws as illegal has ordered Excise & Taxation Department Punjab to immediately stop collection of these taxes. He ordered the Secretary Excise Punjab to initiate an inquiry for fixing the responsibility upon those officers who had collected the income tax and professional tax illegally during registration of rickshaws since 2007.

Provincial Ombudsman issued these orders on an application of Secretary General of Faisalabad Rickshaw Drivers Union Malik Nazir Ahmed who, in his application, had stated that ETO Faisalabad introduced computerized system for registration of rickshaws in 2007 and started collecting income and professional tax during registration of each rickshaw whereas neither government had issued such orders nor any notification in this regard. He disclosed that 124,000 rickshaws have been registered during the last six years and more than rupees three crore have been collected as income tax and professional tax illegally.

The Ombudsman directed Consultant Wazir Ahmed Qureshi to inquire into the matter who summoned the applicant and concerned officials of Excise Department but the officials of Excise Department could not justify the imposition of income tax and professional tax during registration of rickshaws. According to the decision of the Ombudsman, Finance Division or Provincial Finance Department decides enforcement of such taxes but Excise Department did not bother to solicit any advice from these departments and enforced income tax and professional tax during registration of rickshaws which was illegal.

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