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NBR on the hunt as tax shortfall looms

COVID may upend going after defaulters


Doulot Akter Mala | Friday, 29 May 2020


The National Board of Revenue, or NBR, has stepped in to bring the tax defaulters, who owe over Tk 0.5 million to the government, under its scanner.

The income tax department of the board has instructed all tax commissioners across the country to prepare a list of these tax defaulters, who blocked undisputed amount of outstanding taxes.

Nahar Ferdousy Begum, member of the taxes legal and enforcement wing, issued the order on Tuesday.

The order asked the tax commissioners to submit the list of taxpayers with possible arrears by June 3, 2020.

It also directed the tax commissioners to update the data of outstanding revenue, prepare work plan and take possible legal actions to collect the dues in their respective tax zones.

The step to recover tax is part of the broader measure to offset revenue shortfall in the outgoing fiscal year, collection of which faced headwinds owing to COVID-19 outbreak.

Talking to the FE on Wednesday, Ms Begum said the income tax wing has so far collected Tk 15 billion, well short of Tk 50 billion undisputed revenue stuck with different taxpayers for a long period.

The wing will proceed with caution given the coronavirus, but will not spare the habitual defaulters, she said.

"We will find out the amount of collectable revenues from the list of tax defaulters and take measures accordingly," she said.

The wing does not expect to recover a significant amount of arrears as the enforcement of tax laws is being complicated by the lockdown, she added.

"As per the income tax law, taxmen will have to serve notice or send inspectors for realising the dues. But it is not possible during the general holidays," she noted.

After the lockdown, the wing will sit with the NBR chairman to get his advice on the process of realising revenue arrears, she said.

Ms Begum said it is a challenge for the NBR to achieve the revenue receipts target this year as the virus hit the fourth quarter, which is considered peak time for tax collection.

Devising a strategic plan is necessary to realise the large amount of arrears in a logical and sensible way, she added.

Until March of fiscal 2020, the income tax wing faced a staggering Tk 184.15 billion shortfall against is target.

However, the wing achieved the highest growth of over 14 per cent in revenue collection in July-March period, compared with the same period last year among the three arms of the NBR.

doulot_akter@yahoo.com