Friday, 21 June, 2024, Reg No- 06
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NBR mulling to relieve taxpayers from hassles

Published : Monday, 13 May, 2024 at 12:00 AM  Count : 61

The National Board of Revenue (NBR) is planning to significantly curtail the power of field-level tax officials to assess return files to relieve taxpayers from hassle, and encourage them to file income tax returns through self-assessment, NBR sources said.

If the plan is incorporated in the upcoming finance act, tax officials will no longer have the authority to assess any tax files.

Additionally, NBR is considering eliminating the need for tax officials signatures to obtain an income tax certificate, a practice currently followed at the field level.

There are common allegations that this process is time-consuming and, in some cases, involves harassment and under-the-table payments.

"We are working on a provision to incorporate in the upcoming finance act that there will be no legal provision of return assessment power to field-level tax officials.

All tax files will be submitted through the self-assessment system, and if any issues are found, the file will go through the audit process," an NBR official, closely involved with preparing fiscal policy said.

He further said, "We are working to finalise an income tax audit manual simultaneously, which will provide a software-based guideline on which files should go for audit. This will eliminate discretionary power for officials to choose files for audit on their own."

Currently, about 50 percent of companies tax returns are filed through tax officials, while almost 100 percent of returns are filed through self-assessment system for individuals, according to NBR sources.

In Bangladesh, the number of Tax Identification Number (TIN) holders now exceeds one crore, with 37 lakh submitting returns.
Apurbo Kanti Das, former NBR member said "If this happens in the next budget, it will be a good move to ensure compliance as well as confidence among taxpayers, especially companies.

"Taxpayers can declare their income, expenditure, and pay applicable taxes. So there will be no argument from that side that tax officials increase their taxes or hassle them," he said, adding, "if any anomalies are found in the tax file, it will then go through the audit process.

"After proving any tax concealment, the assesses will have to pay the amount through a legal process, which will be a win-win situation for both the government and the taxpayer."

Dr Muhammad Abdul Mazid, former NBR chairman, said "Its a good move if the NBR truly wants to relieve taxpayers from hassle in the name of file assessment by tax officials." "But we have to wait until the budget proposal to see if these changes actually come," he added.

Currently, there are about three lakh registered companies in the country, of which 50,000 submit tax returns yearly. Out of them, about 50 percent of the companies submit returns through tax officials.

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