Move to find tax evaders

Power, gas consumption to come under scanners

| Updated: May 20, 2022 19:43:15

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Electricity and gas consumption of residents will be scrutinised to assess their actual payable taxes with an eye to finding tax evaders, tax officials say.

The National Board of Revenue (NBR) has decided to exchange data with the power supply and gas distribution authorities to trace their consumers.

A taxpayer identification number (TIN) will be shown on the corner of electricity and gas bills of consumers with integration with the NBR's database.

A senior NBR official involved in the process says memoranda of understanding (MoU) with power and gas distributors will be signed to access user information.

"Income tax wing is set to sign first MoU with Dhaka Power Distribution Company (DPDC) next month (June) to get information on its 1.5-million consumers' power consumption data."

Gradually, entities like Bangladesh Power Distribution Board, Dhaka Electricity Supplying Company and Titas Gas will come under the agreement with the NBR.

As per the income tax ordinance-1984, obtaining power and gas connection need mandatory submission of TIN.

The official says access of power-gas consumption database will resolve allegations of harassment of taxpayers during tax file assessment.

Consumption of gas and power in factories is considered one of crucial information to estimate actual production of a factory, he adds.

"We'll examine tax payment status of power consumers paying above Tk 0.1-million electricity bills in a year. As per the taxman's estimation, such people must have taxable income," he cites.

Initially, consumers of the same in Dhaka city will come under scrutiny for assessment in a right way.

According to the official, taxmen will access DPDC database through integration with the tax wing.

Each electricity and gas bill will have TIN in it so that taxmen can find the taxpayers having utility connections, he maintains.

The NBR has suspended a door-to-door survey to identify new taxpayers since March 2020 following the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in the country.

Tax officials are conducting an internal survey based on the database available in city corporations, and Registrar of Joint Stock Companies and Firms, among others, to find corporate staffers and individuals who are yet to come under tax net.

In the budget for fiscal year 2019-20, the revenue board incorporated the provision to obtain TIN for getting power and gas connections.

However, enforcement of the measure remained on paper only following sensitivity of the issue as many of the power consumers do not have taxable income.

The current income-tax ordinance has made submission of tax returns mandatory for all but a few TIN-holders.

Tax officials say power and gas bills will be reviewed only for maintaining clarity and efficiency in tax assessment in tax returns.

Taxpayers often allege disallowance of their claimed expenditure in tax returns. They will be able to justify their claims showing power and gas bills.

After database integration, power supply authorities will also be able to verify the TINs submitted for electricity connections.

The taxman will take data of the VAT department to ensure its assessment on the basis of power and gas consumption, according to the official.

The number of electricity connections rose to 40.9 million in 2021 against 10.8 million in 2009.

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