The High Court in a full text of a verdict observed that all the social media operators including Google, Facebook, YouTube, Yahoo, and Amazon have to get value-added tax (vat) registration compulsorily from the National Board of Revenue (NBR).
The operators are bound to submit their income tax return to the NBR according to the Income Tax Ordinance, 1984, also read the verdict.
But the social media operators including Google, Facebook, YouTube, Yahoo, and Amazon are not paying any kind of tax and vat from the revenue earned by them through digital advertisements posted on their web-pages from Bangladesh, although it is the fair debt of the people of Bangladesh, according to the full text.
Following a writ petition, the High Court bench of Justice Md Ashraful Kamal and Justice Razik-Al-Jalil delivered the short verdict on November 8 in 2020, while the full text was released on Thursday on the Supreme Court website.
Mentioning the observation the High Court ordered the concerned bodies of the government to take immediate necessary steps to realise appropriate tax, vat and/or any other government charge from the revenue earned by the internet companies such as Google, Facebook, Amazon, Yahoo, YouTube, etc. through digital advertisements posted on their web-pages from Bangladesh and on the sale proceeds of domains and licenses by various enterprises/companies since 2007 onwards and/or such other or further order or orders passed.
Finance Secretary, Bangladesh Bank Governor, National Board of Revenue (NBR) Chairman, Law Secretary, Post and Telecommunication Secretary, Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) Chairman, and Information and Communication Technology Secretary have been asked to comply with the order.
The NBR is further asked to submit a report in the court over their collection every six months.
The writ petition was filed in 2018 as public interest litigation by six SC lawyers including Mohammad Humaun Kabir Pallob, Mohammad Kawser, Mohammad Majedul Quader, and Mohammad Sazzadul Islam.
Following the writ petition, the HC on April 12, 2018, directed the government to realize appropriate tax, VAT, and other charges from the revenues earned by different digital platforms like Google, Facebook, Amazon, Yahoo, and YouTube.
In response to the writ petition, the court also asked the government to form a Special Committee having necessary technical knowhow and expertise to assess the nature and volume of online financial transactions and amount of payment received by the internet giants from Bangladesh and to submit their respective reports to this Court.
The HC also issued a rule asking the respondents to explain in four weeks as to why the respondents should not be directed to take immediate necessary steps to realize appropriate tax, vat and/or any other Government charge from the revenue earned by the internet companies through digital advertisements posted on their web-pages from Bangladesh and on the sale proceeds of domains and licences by various enterprises/companies since 2007.
The bench of Justice Moyeenul Islam Chowdhury and Justice Md Ashraful Kamal passed the order and issued the rule.
After final hearing the High Court declared the ruling absolute.