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Changing our tax culture

  • Published at 12:03 am November 20th, 2019
Photo: Bigstock

Bangladesh has a culture of hounding its tax-payers

There is little doubt that, for the longest time, Bangladesh has had a problem with its tax base; many citizens continue to refuse to pay taxes outright, or use loopholes to pay a lesser amount.

While it is good to see that the National Board of Revenue (NBR) has collected close to Tk1,700cr in the five days of the ongoing week-long tax fair across the country, there remains much to be done to broaden our tax base.

While the high turnout certainly validates the government’s initiative to host the fair, which has been held since 2010 and for which they deserve credit, the authorities must look to understand why Bangladesh continues to see such poor returns in tax collection.

To that end, there remains justifiable public uncertainty surrounding taxes, and a lot of it has to do with the unchecked levels of corruption and bureaucracy that plague our administrative offices.

In addition, Bangladesh has a culture of hounding its tax-payers rather than rewarding those who abide by the law or incentivizing the pay of taxes -- people are perpetually in fear after paying taxes and registered into the system, and this is not a good thing.

Suffice to say, this cannot be how we treat tax-payers, and it is no wonder that people look for loopholes in order to avoid paying taxes.

Therefore, while initiatives such as the tax fair are certainly not without merit, what Bangladesh requires is a change of culture, one where paying taxes on time and filing returns is encouraged in a positive manner, while also ensuring that those who fall into tax brackets are not dodging their taxes.