No survey in 16 years to net in new taxpayers

Plea to reactivate central tax survey zone

FE Report | Published: October 17, 2018 09:33:04 | Updated: October 17, 2018 17:33:49

Picture used for illustrative purpose only — Collected

New taxpayers' survey by the central tax survey zone had remained suspended in the last 16 years, hampering the effort to expand the tax net across the country.

The zone under the National Board of Revenue (NBR) has kept its survey activities and the issuance of Taxpayer’s Identification Number (TIN) suspended since 2002.

It has empowered the territorial zones of the income tax wing instead of the survey zone for conducting new taxpayers' survey.

Joint Commissioner of the central tax survey zone Md Mohidul Islam disclosed this at a meeting on Tuesday.

The meeting was arranged by the zone with the Dhaka South City Corporation at Nagar Bhaban as a part of the programme to motivate people about the tax net expansion and survey.

Dhaka South City Corporation Mayor Md Sayeed Khokon, NBR chairman Md Mosharraf Hossain Bhuiyan, NBR members Ziauddin Mahmud, Md Golam Nabi attended the programme.

Central Tax Survey Zone Commissioner Md Asaduzzaman chaired the meeting.

Addressing the meeting, the NBR chairman said tax certificates would be made mandatory for the candidates of city and upazila elections to increase the number of taxpayers.

"Furnishing TIN alone would not be enough for the candidates in city corporation election," he said.

He added it is a legal obligation for the candidates to submit tax returns considering their election expenditures.

The revenue authority formed the central tax survey zone in 1992 aiming to increase the number through inclusion of new taxpayers.

The government has neither closed down the survey zone nor has revamped it despite suspension of its survey activity.

From its inception to 2001, the central survey zone has found 1.0 million new taxpayers across the country, Mr Islam said.

The zone kept 20 per cent of those new taxpayers under its supervision and the rest of the taxpayers' files were distributed to other territories, he added.

There was a Taxpayers Information Retrieval System (TIRS) under TACT project for the zone, which also failed to perform due to the lack of manpower and support after the closure of that programme, he said.

Tax commissioner of the zone Md Asaduzzaman said the number of taxpayers could be raised to 7.0 million with boosting revenue to Tk 300 billion in the next five years if the board activated the central survey zone.

In the meeting, taxpayers and tax lawyers also urged the NBR to make the central survey zone vibrant.

They said the zone has not been working according to its mandate.

Director of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) Monir Hossain said taxpayers do not want to visit tax offices frequently, fearing harassment.

Ziauddin Mahmud said the tax-GDP ratio could have been increased by 2.0 to 3.0 per cent had the NBR reduced the exemptions it grants to development projects.

NBR chairman said the country's tax GDP ratio is still below 10 per cent due to the poor base of taxpayers.

"The people would have been encouraged to pay a minimum tax of Tk 5,000 had the taxmen ensured a hassle-free environment," he said.

He said the number of taxpayers should be increased two-fold by the next year after door-to-door visit aimed at finding out new taxpayers.

Taxmen would conduct survey in flats and apartments to see whether the flat owners have tax files, he added.

Sayeed Khokon said the economic growth could be made balanced through tax measures.

He underscored the need for proper distribution of the taxpayers' money and expansion of tax net in rural areas.


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