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“All Citizens are Equal before Law and are Entitled to Equal Protection of Law”-Article 27 of the Constitution of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh

Issue No: 97
December 13 , 2008

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Law book review

A resourceful handbook on tax law
Barrister Md. Abdul Halim
Advocate, Supreme Court of Bangladesh
Practitioners' Manual on Law on Taxation, Volume I
Childrens' Charity Bangladesh Foundation (CCB Foundation), Dhaka 2008

Samaha M Karim

Laws on taxation continue to change every year with the enactment of Finance Act/Ordinance. It encompasses areas of laws on income tax, laws on VAT, gift tax, travel tax etc. This book lays down the present legal regime of taxation in Bangladesh, which is governed by the Income Tax Ordinance 1984, the VAT Act 1991, the Gift Tax Act 1990 and the Travel Tax Act 2003. The speciality of this book lies in its discussion on landmark judgements, particularly on the law of income tax.

The Income Tax Ordinance, 1984 is a stringent statute, which is further strengthened by case laws as made known in the book. As for example, in the case of Shah Dairy Products Limited vs. Commissioner, Customs, Excise and VAT Ctg and others (Spl. Original) 52 DLR (2000) 72, it was held “No tax can be imposed on a person without using unambiguous and clear words by which tax is imposed.”

The author is a Barrister-at-Law and practicing advocate in the Supreme Court of Bangladesh. He received his LL.B. (Hons.) and LL.M. (First class) from the University of Dhaka. He has LL.M. in International Trade Law from the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne under the British Chevening Scholarship. He also studied LL.B. (Hons.) in the University of London and was called to the Honourable Society of Lincoln's Inn as Barrister-at-Law in 2002. He has extensive publications on constitutionalism and legal system of Bangladesh to his credit, some of which have been featured in reputed dailies and journals.

The book is divided into two volumes: Volume I contains the Income Tax Manual Part-I and II, the Gift Tax Act and the Travel Tax Act, the Tax Ombudsman Ordinance along with judicial decisions and Volume II contains the VAT Act and the VAT Rules and relevant SROs with up-to-date judicial decisions. The book is particularly helpful for tax practitioners and tax officials.

Divided into 23 chapters, the book provides Schedules of Income Tax Ordinance along with the important provisions of the Income Tax Ordinance, 1984. The Schedule of a statue is very much a part of the statute and inclusion or exclusion of any item in or from the schedule of the statute can be made by the legislature only, held in the case of Shah Dairy Products Limited vs. Commissioner, Customs, Excise and VAT Ctg and others (Spl. Original) 52 DLR (2000) 72, as quoted in the book. The book includes an index, which makes search for specific terminologies easy. The judicial decisions are found in each chapter alongside relevant sections of the statute. In applicable areas, the book also provides helpful subheads -'explanation'- in order to further clarify concepts and terminologies.

The main attraction of this book would be its reference to judicial decisions of the apex court. The book is designed for regular use by the courts, learned members of the Bar, the income tax practitioners, the tribunals, authorities of income tax, VAT etc., chartered accountants, industrialists, executives, commercial houses and people in business and trade. The available judicial decisions, particularly on income tax law, have been categorised into two divisions: judicial decisions on Income Tax Act, 1922 and judicial decisions on Income Tax Ordinance, 1984. As there is wide discrepancy with regard to provisions of different sections in the two statutes, the author has incorporated judicial decisions on the Income Tax Act, 1922 in a separate chapter and wherever possible, following sections of the present Income Tax Ordinance, 1984.

Justice Mamnoon Rahman praised the book in his Forwarding to this book stating that it's first of its kind, extremely helpful for the judges, lawyers, tax officials and tax related judicial and quasi-judicial bodies in view of the fact that it contains up-to-date judicial decisions of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh.

The available books in the market on taxation deal only with Indian judicial decisions but as the author stated in his preface, our Supreme Court has had the opportunity to pronounce landmark judgments not only on various aspects of law, but also on the law of income tax and other taxation matters from time to time and our learned lawyers practising in the Supreme Court and also in the Income Tax Bar have to use judicial references on and off.

The book is well structured, informative, and more than useful to fulfil the demands of all types of tax related stakeholders. Overall it offers a great opportunity to gain knowledge on the discussed issue i.e. affairs related to tax. The book provides helpful background knowledge regarding laws on taxation and at the same time keeps the readers very current with the domestic case laws. The work of Volume II is in progress. The author has made commitment to publish revised editions of both the volumes each year on the basis of yearly Finance Act.

The book is available at the following bookstores: Boi Academy, Anupam Gyan Bhandar, Sobuj Library, Sams Publication and University Law Book Centre. The book is of 888 pages and costs Tk.750.00 only.

The reviewer is working with Law Desk.


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