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Monday, August 20, 2007

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The National Board of Revenue (NBR) chairman has said the discretionary powers of tax officials have been cut and corrupt officials are being punished as part of the drive to improve the country's revenue collection.

"We are trying to ensure delivery of services to the taxpayers, reduce the discretionary power of the tax officers and stop discriminatory treatment," Badiur Rahman told a meeting held at the National Press Club yesterday.

He said the NBR has taken strong action against officials who have been involved in bribery and underhand dealings.

"We sacked income tax officers at Chittagong, Mongla and Zia International Airport who have been found negligent in their duties, " Badiur said.

He said the NBR has cut the discretionary powers of tax officials with officers no longer being able to conduct random audits on income tax returns and impose frequent penalties.

The NBR chief said previously the tax payment system had varied for different classes of people. Now the unified self-assessment system had been introduced for all, and a unified taxpayer identification number (TIN) introduced for big companies.

He said if any taxpayers face problems in submitting income tax returns to a circle office (a local tax office ) their return could be submitted directly to the NBR. In another move to simplify procedures the income tax appeal fee has been reduced, and the time in which people have the right to appeal extended.

The NBR chairman said a survey conducted by the NBR found that over 57 per cent of people liable for tax did not pay any.

He hoped people would take the opportunity given by section 198 to disclose their undeclared income by September 30. By August 16, a total of 13300 people had disclosed about Tk 2355 crore and paid taxes of Tk 427 crore, he added.

He said the opportunity did not apply to those listed by the joint force and other agencies under the ongoing anti-corruption drive.

He said the NBR will continue filing cases against large scale tax evaders and make people aware of income tax rules.

Replying to a query Badiur Rahman said the NBR has no plans to carryout a drive on the capital markets to identify tax dodgers and will not impose any tax on opening beneficiary owner accounts. "The market is still very weak and should not be made more volatile by such a drive at this moment," he said.

The chairman said the NBR was not under any political pressure to file cases against specific tax dodgers. However he warned that, "if we welcome back the politicians who are now in jail by offering garlands, the present reform measures will not be able to continue. "

BEA Secretary General Abul Barkat said the government can collect Tk 60,000 crore as income tax from the total undeclared money of around Tk two lakh crore in the country.

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