The submission of income tax returns is much less than expected although the National Board of Revenue (NBR) extended the deadline twice, according to official information.
The first extended deadline was November 2 and the second one is November 30.
Until November 2, about 4 lakh 50 thousand returns were submitted across the country including one lakh 49 thousand 309 submitted during the week-long National Income Tax Return Fair in September.
The revenue earning from the returns until November 2 stood at TK 1,650 crore. The amount was TK 2,100 core during the corresponding period last year and the number of returns submitted was 11 lakh 64 thousand.
This year the number is less by seven lakh than that of the last year. The revenue income is also TK 350 crore less than that of the last year.
The target for revenue income set for the NBR in the current fiscal of 2014-15 is one lakh 49 thousand 720 crore. But achievement of it has become uncertain due to poor response to submission of returns, said sources.
According to official statistics, the tax-GDP ratio in Bangladesh is the one of the lowest in the world. It is now 11.2 per cent, even less than 13 per cent of Nepal.
Former finance adviser to a caretaker government and prominent economist Dr AB Mirza Azizul Islam told The Daily Observer that revenue income should be increased. This requires expansion of the tax net, not the amount of tax. He said the efficiency of the tax administration needs to be enhanced and appropriate steps need to be taken to stop evasion of taxes.
About the lowest tax: GDP ratio the noted economist said,"We need to come out of this and the government has to be strict in realising taxes."
Until October this year about 13 lakh 30 thousand taxpayers re-registered for electronic TIN. The number of TIN holders across country is 17 lakh 52 thousand. About 3 lakh people have registered as new taxpayers.
Relevant sources in the revenue sector blamed weaknesses in the existing income tax law for poor response to submission of income tax returns.
According to the income tax ordinance, returns have to be submitted within the stipulated time. Failure in this will lead to a fine of TK 1,000 in a single lot and TK 50 for per day delay.
But it is not enforced at all. Under the rules 75 and 38 of the Income Tax Ordinance 1984, income tax return forms have to be filled in self-determination system and then filed. Due to lack of monitoring many holders of Tax Identification Number (TIN) can evade income tax. This encourages new taxpayers to do so. Chairman of NBR Md. Golam Hossain admitted that about 2.5 lakh tax payers drop out every year.
An officer at the Income Tax Wing of the NBR said the deadline is extended every year if there any appeal. In Bangladesh, tax is not realised in time properly for political instability.
Former NBR chairman Dr Mohammad Abdul Mazid blamed lack of political will for the poor collection of revenues in individual category. He also pointed out lapses in the law. But NBR member Md Bashir Uddin Ahmed disagreed on the point of law. He said return submission is delayed this year due to political troubles. Time has been extended for this and the submission of returns will surpass the target, he hoped.