The deadline for submission of income tax returns expired on Monday with a poor show as the National Board of Revenue witnessed a decline in the number of income tax returns in comparison with that in the last fiscal year.
The board observed that there were around 18,000 returns not filed this year compared to the same period in the previous year.
The tax authorities received a total of 8,15,900 returns till November 30 against 8,33,900 submitted till the same period last year, NBR data shows.
The tax officials, however, expected that the number of returns might cross the total figure of last year if time petition filed by taxpayers is considered.
This year, a total of 2.76 lakh taxpayers petitioned for additional time to deputy commissioner for filing their returns. Altogether, the number of returns may stand at 10.92 lakh this year. In the same period of the last fiscal year, the total number of taxpayers stood at 10.27 lakh including 1.94 lakh time petitions.
The NBR earlier extended the deadline till November 30 from the original September 30 to help taxpayers submit their returns. On Monday, the last day of return submission, the board of revenue kept its field offices open till 10pm to facilitate filing returns.
Many taxpayers, however, were apprehending that the deadline might be extended further, and therefore, failed to file their returns, officials said.
According to the income tax ordinance, NBR can fine Tk1,000 at a time and Tk50 for each day if any TIN holders fail to submit their returns within the deadline.
The ordinance, however, allows taxpayers to seek extension on valid grounds. The deputy commissioner of taxes can give maximum two months to respective taxpayers.
The new e-Tin holders will be penalised with the highest Tk5,000 if they fail to file their returns by the deadline, according to a new section incorporated in the Finance Bill 2015. Increase in the number of returns remains a challenge
Despite recent initiatives and improvements, raising the number of taxpayers continues to be a major concern for the government, with less than 1% of the population properly paying tax in the country.
According to the income tax act, taxpayers having income above Tk2.50 lakh have to pay tax.
Despite the series of efforts made by the authorities, development was not reflected in the number of income tax returns filed, officials said. They held the taxmen responsible for not enforcing law and laid blame on the lack of compliance culture and tax evasion culture in the country for the situation.
Although at least 70 lakh people earn enough to pay taxes in Bangladesh, only around 17.52 lakh have TIN. The government now has a plan to increase the number of taxpayers to 30 lakh by FY19.
In Vietnam, of its total 65 million people, 30 million pay tax, while in Bangladesh, the number of taxpayers is only 1.6 million out of 160 million population, NBR Chairman Nojibur Rahman told the Dhaka Tribune.
“We are trying to expand the tax base and therefore the number of taxpayers is increasing in Bangladesh gradually. Middle-income people have the tendency to pay tax. If the high-income group maintains their responsibility properly, it will help develop the Tax-GDP ratio in the country,” he added.