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New device more efficient Tax Management System Renamed as Mahassal (BUSINESS RECORDER DATED 11th MAY, 2008)

ISLAMABAD: The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has renamed the ‘Tax Management System’ (TMS) as ‘Mahassal’ for speedy implementation of a homegrown system covering all income tax-related functions, including returns analysis, assessment and verification processes.

Sources told Business Recorder on Saturday that if the ‘Mahassal’ system failed in proper computerization of direct taxes, the whole project of automation and integration of taxes would suffer a serious set-back under the reforms.

The ‘Mahassal’ team, headed by Project Director Ranna Ahmed, recently met FBR Chairman Abdullah Yusuf to give a demonstration on the new system.

There were some misunderstandings between the ‘Mahassal’ development team from Lahore and tax officials at the FBR. However, the FBR Member, Taxpayer Education and Facilitation, Khawar Khurshid Butt, took the initiative for bridging the communication gap between the ‘Mahassal’ team and the FBR officials.

During 5-6 hours presentation, it was decided that the ‘Mahassal’ would be made part of the reform process to declare it as a key initiative for direct taxes automation. The FBR agreed to declare ‘Mahassal’ as a project under the reform agenda.

The project would be an end-to-end solution to all direct taxes related operations and maintenance of tax records. The project would cover documentation of income tax returns, calculation of taxes, raising demands, issuance of computerized notices, appeal system, taxpayer ledger and balance system and other operations of direct taxes side.

The original project i.e. TMS was not functioning properly due to lack of facilities and support to the ‘Mahassal’ team in Lahore. Practically, the TMS was not functioning error-free for the last few months. This prompted the team to revamp the entire system under a new name i.e. ‘Mahassal’ by applying new methodology with the help of FBR.

Moreover, the Pakistan Revenue Automation Limited (PRAL) wanted to maintain its monopoly by installation of computerized system through its own experts.

On the other hand, project development team informed the FBR that the software would be almost free of cost as compared to expensive computer systems being purchased from advance countries.

Sources said that the ‘Mahassal’ team is working at Lahore without any proper support or funding creating problems for implementation of the project. As a pilot project, the ‘Mahassal’ is being tested at the Large Taxpayers Unit (LTU), Lahore, for processing of income tax data of around 224 top business entities.

When the testing is successful, the system would be replicated at other LTUs and reformed units across the country.

To accomplish the task, the FBR Chairman has directed the concerned departments to provide necessary accommodation, resources, computer servers and infrastructure to the ‘Mahassal’ development team in Lahore.

Sources said that the project team requested the FBR Chairman to develop a new web-based E-portal for directly collecting data of income tax returns under the ‘Mahassal’. The team has found that the existing income tax returns information on E-portal is not error-free, which pointed towards developing a new web-based system.

However, the representatives of PRAL argued why a separate E-portal was required in the presence of an E-portal already collecting income tax returns. The FBR Chairman directed the foreign consultant to provide necessary information of both E-portals to the experts. It would be decided whether ‘Mahassal’ proposed E-portal is better or not.

The project director demanded filing of returns electronically through their proposed E-portal on experimental basis. This would allow the ‘Mahassal’ to directly upload the income tax returns on the system for further analysis. Presently, taxpayers are still facing problems in filing returns, electronically through the existing E-portal.

Sources said that the apprehensions of the project team were removed and the system would be given due attention of the board for its implementation countrywide.

FBR Chairman also directed the project team to ensure cleaning of income tax data which is necessary for implementation of any integrated system.

May 11, 2008
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