Published: Friday, July 26, 2013

NBR may review tax dispute with telcos

The National Board of Revenue is likely to form a joint panel to re-examine its claim for more than Tk 3,000 crore from telecom operators as value added taxes for SIM replacement.
The review team may be formed taking representatives from the NBR, Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission and the operators.
The revenue administration agreed to review the claim at a meeting with the operators at its headquarters yesterday.
This was the third meeting in the last 10 days between the NBR and the operators to break the impasse on various tax-related issues ahead of the 3G auction scheduled for September 2.
In the first two meetings, both the parties failed to agree on anything, including NBR’s claim for the amount from four carriers — Grameenphone, Banglalink, Robi and Airtel — as their unpaid VAT for SIM replacement.
The field offices of the tax administrator claimed the VAT on the grounds that operators had sold old SIMs (subscriber identity module) to new customers to evade taxes.
However, the operators rejected the claim, saying the SIMs were issued as replacements for the lost or damaged ones for their old customers.
Other issues include the operators’ demand for withdrawing 7.5 percent VAT on spectrum fees for 3G. However, the NBR at the meeting proposed to bring down the VAT to 5 percent, said officials who were present at the meeting.
TIM Nurul Kabir, secretary general of the Association of Mobile Telecom Operators of Bangladesh, said the outcome of the meeting was positive and both the parties would sit again on July 28 to come to an amicable solution to all disputed matters.
“Hopefully, we will have a positive outcome ahead of the 3G auction,” he said.
Kabir said the joint panel will help clear the issues where there are ‘misunderstandings’.
Earlier the NBR suggested the mobile operators resolve the tax issues through its Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) or out-of-court settlement. But the operators demanded the resolution should be through independent arbitration.
After yesterday’s meeting, NBR Chairman Ghulam Hussain told The Daily Star that the ADR might not be required now.
Telecom operators also demanded a roadmap on possible taxation for the sector.