The revenue board despairs of a proposed pact with Dhaka city's south administration on sharing householders' data as part of a move for casting wide country's tax net as the latter reportedly demurred.
Officials attributed the upset to "indecisiveness" and lack of digital capabilities on part of Dhaka South City Corporation for collecting and sharing house-property owners' data.
As such, the National Board of Revenue (NBR) excluded from its annual performance agreement (APA) the agenda of signing Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with this one of the twin city corporations in Dhaka, to begin with.
NBR officials said they are collecting holding numbers to find out house- property and apartment owners in different ways and manually due to the absence of digitised systems in the south city corporation.
In a recent meeting at the Internal Resources Division (IRD), senior secretary of the IRD and NBR chairman Abu Hena Md Rahmatul Muneem said the DSCC authority was not interested to enter into MoU for providing holding numbers of house owners, according to its minutes.
Earlier, the NBR chairman had sent a Demy Official (DO) letter to DSCC with the draft MoU seeking its consent.
The NBR aimed to collect information of new taxpayers through secondary sources instead of going door to door to have it firsthand.
"It is not required to sign the MoU as the taxmen are collecting holding information in different ways," he told the meeting at the IRD.
Earlier, the NBR had targeted collecting information of house-property owners through secondary sources by joining hands with Dhaka South City Corporation.
Its aim was to scrutinize the householders and flat owners' tax information on the basis of holding numbers by June 6, 2022 as per APA.
Tax officials said door-to-door survey in this pandemic and under the current context of the country is not an effective way to expand the tax net.
They say cooperation of the other service-providing entities will be needed to raise Bangladesh's tax-GDP ratio, which is termed much lower even by regional standards.
Talking to the FE, Chief Executive Officer of DSCC Farid Ahammad said their database has yet to be digitized to share information of the house- property owners.
A digitization project of holding numbers of house-property was handed over to the city corporation earlier after its expiry but the DSCC has been facing some difficulties in implementing it, he added.
"We will sort out the problem by December next," he said.
The DSCC authority may be compelled to invite fresh tender to digitize holding numbers in case of failure in sorting out the problems by then, he added.
On signing the proposed MoU, Mr Ahammad said it is for the local government ministry to take a decision first as to whether it would take the responsibility of deducting VAT and taxes at source and deposit that into the NBR codes as per MoU.
He noted that it is not mandatory to furnish National Identity Number for obtaining a holding number.
Tax officials said due to the absence of NID in the holding number taxmen face difficulties to find out potential taxpayers.
In his budget speech in 2018, then Finance Minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith had targeted raising the number of taxpayers to 10 million within the following five years.
However, the current number of registered taxpayers is 67 million who hold e-TIN.
The NBR was able to net some 159,000 new taxpayers in the current fiscal year by collecting information through external and internal surveys.
The NBR is collecting information about foreigners from Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA), vehicle owners from the BRTA, and land buying and selling from sub-registry offices, power distribution, and service-oriented offices and house-property owners from city corporations.
It is also collecting information of flat and house owners from the National Housing Authority.
The door-to-door survey by the NBR remained suspended since March 2020 after the coronavirus pandemic hit the country.
Recently, tax zone-1 collected information of house-property and apartment owners in Segunbagicha, Eskaton, Siddeswari, Moghbazar and Hatirpool areas of the city by gathering information from the city corporation's register.
They had started issuing letters to those owners asking them to furnish tax-related information.
Initially, the tax zone-1 has scrutinised information of 28,000 householders in six wards under the two city corporations in the capital city.
Following the success of the move, the NBR chairman instructed all of the tax zones across the country to take this as a model and launch such a drive to hook new taxpayers onto the tax net.