The government has decided to form a taskforce involving government and private sector stakeholders to bring the tax-evading unauthorised foreigners under the tax radar.
An inter-ministerial meeting has already been held recently to discuss about the formation a high-powered taskforce that will enhance monitoring on the unauthorised foreigners for realising income tax from them.
In addition, the taskforce will also bring the employer organisations under surveillance to check whether the companies are following the NBR’s instruction in appointing any foreigner.
The meeting was held at the NBR Headquarters in the city with NBR boss Nojibur Rahman in the chair.
It is reported that many of the foreigners working in different sectors do not pay their due taxes despite having taxable income. Many of them are living and working in the country without any work authorisation and also leave the country secretly without paying their due taxes.
“Against such a backdrop, an inter-ministerial meeting has decided to form a special taskforce to monitor on the issues relating to unauthorised foreign workers,” said NBR Chairman NojiburRahman while talking to the Dhaka Tribune.
He said: “The NBR will soon sit with different government agencies and ministries, and also with the business bodies including Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) and other foreign chambers to finalise the work plan to implement the decision.”
The revenue authorities came up with the decision to enforce the monitoring activities in line with the Finance Act 2015 that has authorised the NBR to check tax evasion from illegal foreigners, said officials.
According to the finance bill 2015, if found guilty, the companies that employ unauthorised foreigners, will have to pay 50% additional tax from their total payable tax or Tk5 lakh as fine, whichever is higher, as penalty for giving jobs to foreign nationals without necessary documents and work permits.
Currently, the NBR is working on for the formation of database of foreign workers through collecting information from different employer agencies and from different government agencies.
To this effect, the NBR has already sought recorded list of foreigners from Board of Investment, NGO Affairs Bureau, Bangladesh Export Processing Zones Authority (BEPZA), Immigration of Bangladesh Police and Criminal Investigation Department (CID) to implement the tax provisions.
It has also sent letters to different employer organisations asking them to provide information about foreigners employed in their firms.
According to the Income Tax Ordinance 1984, a foreign national needs to open a tax file in Bangladesh if they stays in Bangladesh for a period of 182 days or more in a year, or stays 90 days or more in a year after staying 365 days in previous four years in Bangladesh. They also need to present their tax clearance certificates from the NBR while crossing the immigration desk before leaving the country.
However, most of the foreigners now skip payment of their due taxes because of lack of immigration check posts.
Under such a circumstance, the NBR has also decided to set up income tax booths at immigration check-posts to prevent the foreigners from leaving the country without showing tax clearance certificates.
According to the plan, the board will set up separate check posts at all the international airports by June this year and will establish similar check posts at other immigration points including the land ports in phases, confirmed the officials concerned.
Although all the foreigners are to pay income tax at a rate of 30% on their incomes, only some 10,000 of them pay income tax annually while the rest depart the country without paying any tax.
Officials said, a good number of foreign workers evade taxes with the help of their employers as they stay in the country on temporary basis by renewing their work permits after every three months.
Currently, around 4.5 lakh foreign nationals, mostly from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, China, Taiwan, South Korea and some European and African countries are working legally or illegally in Bangladesh. According to the BoI data, nearly 12000 foreigners receives work permit from the authority every year.