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Foreign workers under NBR radar

  • Published at 11:23 pm August 25th, 2014

The National Board of Revenue (NBR) has decided to further enhance its surveillance on foreigners, who are illegally working in the country without paying tax to the government exchequer.

The board has also asked its field offices to prepare a list of all the foreigners working in their respective areas so none can leave the country without paying taxes, said a NBR official.

There is no such compiled list of foreigners working in Bangladesh as there is no coordination between the government agencies responsible for giving work permits to foreigners.

“Normally, a number of government agencies including Board of Investment, NGO affairs bureau and Bangladesh Export Processing Zones Authority (BEPZA) approves work permits for the foreigners. Though we’ve predicted that at least 4 lakh foreigners were working in Bangladesh, only around 12,000 of them file tax returns in every fiscal,” he added.

According to the Income Tax Ordinance-1984, a foreign national needs to open tax file if he or she lives in the country for 90 days in a year. They also need to present their tax clearance certificates from NBR while crossing the immigration check posts before leaving the country.

Earlier, the home ministry had under taken an initiatives for setting up NBR booths at the immigration check-posts to prevent foreigners, leaving the country without showing tax clearance certificates, but the move could yield any results as the agencies concerned are yet to   reach a consensus on this matter.

Under such a circumstance, the NBR in July asked all of its offices to prepare separate lists of the foreigners working in their respective areas and has asked to conduct massive drives to bring all the foreigners under tax radar.

Meanwhile, the NBR chairman Md. Ghulam Hussain at a recent meeting with NBR commissioners and all its members had instructed its officials to keep foreigners under special monitoring to boost the revenue collection for the current fiscal.

Earlier, a working foreign national having work permit have to pay 25% income tax, which was raised at 30% for the current fiscal, came into effect from July 1.

A good numbers of foreigners comes to Bangladesh every year with tourist or business visa, but starts working in private sectors including readymade garment, IT and other manufacturing industries, but during their departure, they do not pay any taxes, making a huge revenue loss for the country.

Slating the employers, the NBR official also said: “Many of the foreigners even do not have any idea about the country’s tax structure and they also remain totally unaware about that. So, it’s  the employers, who can encourage foreigners about their tax obligations during appointments so they are bound to pay tax properly.”

There are currently three tax circles in Dhaka and two in Chittagong to collect income tax from foreigners.

According to NBR officials, citizens mostly from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, China, Taiwan, South Korea and some European and African countries are working in the country.