Bangladesh National Board of Revenue launches drive to catch tax evaders

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Bangladesh National Board of Revenue launches drive to catch tax evaders

The National Board of Revenue has started a month-long programme to catch all types of tax evaders and boost domestic resource collection.

Under an enforcement programme that began on December 21, teams led by commissioners at the field level will take quick measures against violations of tax, VAT and customs related laws, the tax authority said.

An evaluation of the programme will be carried out on January 21, the NBR said in a statement. The results will be unveiled on International Customs Day on January 26.

“We will also realise tax in line with the law if anyone evades tax. Legal actions will be taken against those who remain silent and do not pay arrears despite reminder,” NBR Chairman Md Nojibur Rahman said in the statement.

To reach the goal, the NBR issued an order instructing all field officials, including commissioners, not to leave stations without prior permission. Otherwise, administrative actions will be taken, it said.

The NBR announced the enforcement programme after holding a tax fair, Tax Week and VAT Day and VAT Week since early November to motivate people to pay tax and become compliant.

This is the first time the NBR launched an enforcement drive centrally to catch tax evaders in the country, where less than 1 percent of the population submit income tax returns.

Similar is the scenario in value-added tax returns. Nearly 50,000 firms submit VAT returns in Bangladesh where the total number of business establishments is about 80 lakh.

A senior official of the NBR said field offices had taken such initiatives in the past mainly to reach the revenue earning target. But the revenue authority itself did not announce any such enforcement programme in the past, he said.

“This is a positive initiative. It may energise tax and revenue officials. But the enforcement should continue throughout the year,” said Towfiqul Islam Khan, a research fellow at the Centre for Policy Dialogue.

“At the same time, reforms should be expedited. The overall tax payment procedure should be made easier and services should be made better to motivate people to pay taxes,” he said.

The revenue administration should also engage general people to ensure increased collection of VAT, Khan added.

The NBR said it has taken a 'zero tolerance' policy against corruption and harassment of taxpayers.

Officials are strictly monitored to turn the NBR into a service-oriented organisation, it said.

Tax collection by the NBR accounts for 85 percent of the total annual revenue, according to the finance ministry.