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Dhaka Tribune

NBR’s three-pronged strategy to boost revenue collection

These are: digital transformation, expansion of tax net, and enhancing administrative capacity

Update : 18 Mar 2024, 07:46 PM

To significantly boost revenue collection from domestic sources, the National Board of Revenue (NBR) is adopting a three-pronged approach.

These are: digital transformation, expansion of tax net, and enhancing administrative capacity. 

The core idea is to make tax payments easy and transparent to improve taxpayer services which in turn will help NBR to collect more revenue, according to an official document. 

According to the Medium Term Macroeconomic Policy Statement (2023-24 to 2025-26) of the Finance Division of the Finance Ministry, the government has taken some Major reform measures to materialize the move.

The VAT & Supplementary Duty Act 2012 has been implemented in July 2019. With the implementation of the new act, the collection of VAT and supplementary duty is expected to receive a significant boost in the medium term. After the initial hiccup and the shortfall due to the outbreak of COVID-19, revenue collection accelerated in FY22.

The government has enacted the new Customs Act, which replaced the Customs Act 1969. International best practices in customs, including that of the World Customs Organization (WCO), the revised KYOTO Convention and the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement have been incorporated here. 

The law aims to harmonize and simplify customs processes to facilitate the collection of custom duties. 

The new Income Tax Act is also expected to create an enabling environment for taxpayers, streamline income tax assessment and collection, and facilitate domestic and foreign investment.

To implement the new VAT law, the NBR undertook the ‘VAT Online Project (VoP)’ which was in operation since 2013 and concluded in June 2021. 

Under the VOP, the official document said that the three important automation measures have been completed. First, the Online VAT Registration began in March 2017. Again, the central registration system has been in force since July 2019. The NBR has introduced online return submission in July 2019. The digital filing system has been introduced in the form of online submission of VAT returns.

The NBR has rolled out the electronic payment (e-payment) of customs duties in 2017, income tax in 2012 and VAT in 2020. Income tax can be paid through MFS (mobile financial services) as well. 

To facilitate real-time deposit of government money to the national exchequer, the government has launched the Automated Invoice Portal. This Automated Challan (also known as A-Challan) will act as the receipt window of the government. The payment of income tax has already been brought under the A-Challan system on a pilot basis. 

The NBR now plans to expand its use for payment of VAT and customs duties. The A-Challan will ensure the timely deposit of money including the prevention of fake return submission and revenue evasion.
Moreover, the discrepancy between the amount of revenue collected by the NBR and the accounts given by the Accounting Offices will be eliminated.

The Medium Term Macroeconomic Policy Statement (2023-24 to 2025-26) said that individual taxpayers can now submit their tax returns online.

The NBR has successfully launched eTDS Environment for easy and hassle-free processing of income tax at the source. With the introduction of this system, taxpayers’ time, cost and visits have been reduced to almost zero. Taxpayers can now submit fourteen reports in the eTDS environment.

To stop evasion in VAT and enhance VAT collection, the government has introduced Electronic Fiscal Devices (EFD) with a sales data controller mechanism. 

The government has already installed 9270 EFD/SDC (Sales Data Controller) machines. NBR has selected 24 sectors, including residential hotels, bakeries and fast foods, decorators and caterers, sweet shops etc. for this purpose. 

To broaden the coverage, the government has decided to outsource the installation of EFD/ SDC machines with a target of 60,000 EFD/ SDC in the first phase and 3,00,000 in five years, if the first phase brings good results. 

Besides, to prevent tax evasion and to bring transparency in VAT record keeping, the government has made the use of NBR-prescribed VAT software mandatory in VAT-registered industries with annual turnovers of Tk 5 crore or above.

The NBR has made provisions to enable internet-based companies, such as Google, Facebook, Microsoft etc. to pay their VAT on online sales.

This allows these companies to pay their VAT through their authorized VAT agents without opening their office in Bangladesh.

The NBR plans to operationalize the risk management system to ensure that no more than 10 percent of the import consignments are subject to physical examination. To that end, the NBR has established a Central Risk Management Unit/Commissionerate for Customs.

To streamline the bonded warehousing system, reduce its misuse and make it transparent, the government has taken a project that aims to automate the bond management system by June 2023. Meanwhile, the licensing module has started operation and other modules will become operational soon.

Bangladesh Customs will soon be conducting a Time Release Study in the major custom houses to take stock of the actual time taken in the release of imported consignments. The objective of the TRS will be to identify bottlenecks in customs clearance and to take measures to reduce clearance time.

The NBR strives to expand the number of taxpayers and has made the return submission mandatory for all TIN-holders with a few exceptions. 

Other reform efforts by the NBR included – i) implementation and activation of Online National Single Window, Post Clearance Audit, Advance Ruling, Authorized Economic Operator, and thereby increasing dynamism in international trade; ii) full implementation of online income tax return submission under SGMP project; iii) implementation of “Individual Source Tax Deduction Monitoring Zone” to strengthen income tax deduction monitoring; iv) expansion of the e-Payment system in income tax; v) activation of transfer pricing and anti-money laundering activities; and vi) strengthening ICT infrastructure construction and automation activities. 

Administrative expansion of the income tax department is underway, the Medium Term Macroeconomic Policy Statement added.

Introduction of the Document Verification System (DVS) has brought financial discipline and positively contributed to boosting tax collection both in income tax and VAT by increasing transparency.

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