The government needs to strengthen its online tax monitoring to help raise its capacity to meet the annual revenue collection target, opined the PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), an international professional services firm.
Everything concerning tax, including tax registration and tax filing, should go online, the PwC officials said at a post-budget briefing in the capital on Tuesday.
"For example, currently it is very difficult for the government to monitor who is paying the TDS (tax deducted at source) and who is not," said Sushmita Basu, partner and leader of Bangladesh Tax and Regulatory Practice for PwC.
"However, if the whole process of tax payment, tax collection and TDS realisation can be monitored online, it will definitely increase the revenue generation and widen the tax net."
"The latest government initiative to install electronic devices at all business units can help such online tax monitoring," she added.
The PwC experts also observed that better digitisation of the tax system can also help reduce the scope of tax evasion.
Their recommendations came four days after Finance Minister A M A Muhith placed the Tk 4.65-trillion national budget for the upcoming fiscal year (FY), 2018-19.
The budget has set a revenue collection target of Tk 3,392.80 billion for the upcoming FY, which is Tk 798.26 billion higher than the revised target for FY 18.
Top economists of the country, however, have expressed their scepticism about achieving the target.
They found the government's existing revenue generation capacity is not enough to meet the target.
In this context, the PwC experts emphasised digitisation and online tax monitoring for attaining the revenue collection target.
Focusing on the tax rates proposed in the budget, they said real estate is set to get costlier due to increase in the VAT (Value Added Tax) rate of construction services from six per cent to seven per cent.
"In addition, flats up to 1,100 square feet would be costlier following the rise in the VAT rate from 1.5 per cent to 2.0 per cent," said Prabir Mitra, Manager of Tax and Regulatory Services of PwC.
"At the same time, reselling flats would also be costlier due to the introduction of two per cent VAT," he added.
However, they also pointed out that the latest budget has proposed tax or VAT incentives for a number of locally-manufactured products like refrigerator, bicycle, electronics and medicine.
Noting that currently around 25 per cent population of Bangladesh earns more than US$ 6,500 per year, the PwC experts called for creating better investment scopes for this segment.
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