• Tuesday, Oct 22, 2019
  • Last Update : 10:19 pm

Power subscribers first in line of NBR fire

  • Published at 10:17 pm June 26th, 2019
Power subscribers first in line of NBR fire
Electricity subscribers are the prime targets of the revenue board authority in its frantic move to increase the tax-GDP ratio, which is one of the lowest in the globe Mehedi Hasan/Dhaka Tribune

Currently, 21,00,000 people are paying taxes while the tax identification number (TIN) holders are about 40,00,000

Electricity users, especially those in the urban areas, may be the first target of National Board of Revenue (NBR) in its hunt for new taxpayers to take their number to one crore.

Currently, 21,00,000 people are paying taxes while the tax identification number (TIN) holders are about 40,00,000.

Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal, while placing the budget before parliament, said that the number would be increased to one crore immediately.

“We will take the number (taxpayer) to one crore at the earliest possible time InshaAllah. And as part of the ongoing process, efforts to bring the rest of the citizens under the tax net will continue,” he added.

NBR Member Kanon Kumar Roy has said the NBR is looking to all possible fields to find new taxpayers and it has spotted electricity meter holders as the potential taxpayers.

“Electricity subscribers in city areas will be brought under the tax net to raise taxpayers' number as all the house owners are wealthy and tax-eligible but have a tendency to evade tax,” he tells Dhaka Tribune.

Presently, TIN is needed only for commercial connections in the city areas. As part of the move to increase taxpayers' number, the draft budget proposed that TIN be made mandatory for the utility receivers in the upcoming fiscal.

“Initially, we have a plan to cover the capital city, and the other city and municipal areas of the country will be covered gradually as early as possible,” Kanon says. 

The NBR is expecting around 20 lakh new taxpayers only from the two Dhaka city corporations, and also hoping another good number of taxpayers from across the country through the move.

The revenue board had earlier taken an initiative to bring all house owners in the capital under tax net but failed to implement it.

Kanon admits that they failed to implement but attributes this failure to manpower shortage and traditional strategies.

“But the new system," he hopes, "will be effective as it is associated with electricity subscription."

“We primarily sat with power distributor companies including Dhaka Power Distribution Company Ltd and Dhaka Electric Supply Company Limited and sought their cooperation for ensuring TIN for the power subscriber,” he informs.

A verified TIN must be mentioned in the electricity bill, without which, the assigned bank or the authorities will not receive the money, the tax official clarifies, however saying that they will not go for such a hard line immediately.

“We will give the subscribers time for being registered with TIN,” Kanon says, adding that a different mechanism will be worked out immediately to ensure TIN for those who use pre-paid meter.

Apart from the initiatives, the draft budget proposed that TIN be made mandatory for buyers and sellers in case of any land property registration.

NBR officials find that half of the TIN holders are not even submitting tax returns regularly while there are some who are allowed not to submit the return but their number is very small compared to the dodgers having TINs.

An NBR official, seeking anonymity, has said that they challenge few taxpayers sometime but in most cases they themselves accept the taxpayers' claim. 

Besides, majority of the tax-eligible people have remained yet out of tax-net, he mentions, attributing this to manpower shortage and lack of capability of the NBR.

The finance minister, in his budget speech, also said about his plan to expand revenue offices to upazila level, bringing administrative reforms, encouraging TIN holders to submit their tax returns.

He also mentioned that they were conducting a survey to widen the tax net. 

Economists, however, have repeatedly called for increasing income tax ratio to more than 50% of the total revenue, which is now about 36%.