NBR ponders obligatory tax returns for all salaried individuals

File photo of the National Board of Revenue (NBR) office in Dhaka Mehedi Hasan/Dhaka Tribune

It is also considering bringing down the rates of withholding tax or tax at source

The National Board of Revenue (NBR) is exploring possibility to make online tax return submission mandatory for all salaried taxpayers from next year, said a senior tax official on Saturday.

“It is also considering bringing down the rates of withholding tax or tax at source in the budget for upcoming Fiscal Year,” said Md Alamgir Hossain, income tax policy member of the NBR.

Speaking at a workshop on tax return filing at the Economic Reporters Forum (ERF) office, he said the final demonstration of online return filing modules is likely to be held in February next.

Currently, the NBR suspended the online return filing facility, except one tax zone, due to some technical faults in the system.

ERF and Golden Bangladesh, a non-government organisation on tax matters, jointly organised the programme for economic reporters.

Md Jahangir Alam, chief executive officer (CEO) of Golden Bangladesh, said they are ready to extend all cooperation to the ERF members to fill-up their tax returns and other tax-related services.

“We are ready to provide free-of-cost services to the ERF members on tax matters,” said Alam, who is also a tax lawyer.

The organisation is working to develop tax culture and build awareness on payment of taxes, he added.

ERF President SharmeenRinvy also spoke while its general secretary SM Rashidul Islam moderated the workshop.

The NBR member said the number of tax return filers remain around 2.2 million which is around one per cent of the total number of country’s population.

“We could not popularize the tax return filing through taking required measures,” he admitted.

To simplify the tax return system, the NBR has started drafting a new direct tax law and its first draft is likely to be placed for stakeholders’ opinion by June next.

“The new law would be drafted in Bangla where taxpayers will find details on return filing in one chapter,” he added.

Alamgir said taxpayers’ dependency on income tax practitioners or tax lawyers will be reduced to a great extent after enacting the new law.

He said the direct tax GDP ratio remained stagnant in respect of the country’s per capita income and household expenditures.

Alamgir said the tax net would be expanded if the NBR could simplify further the tax return submission process.

The NBR has also moved to digital transformation of taxpayers’ services and expansion of out-reaching activities.

On allegation of harassment, he said a negligible part of total income tax files are selected for auditing.

He said the taxpayers need to feel the necessity of tax payment for development of the country.

Alamgir said the government has offered the opportunity to declare undisclosed income, paying 10 percent tax at flat rate, which is legally earned.

He said the opportunity should be availed by the taxpayers having undisclosed income to avoid future hassle on tax matters.

The income tax policy member said the time for tax return submission has been extended until December 31 to facilitate taxpayers avoid gathering amid the Covid-19 pandemic.