The National Board of Revenue yesterday formed a tripartite committee with representatives from the telecom regulator and mobile operators to resolve some pending issues.
The committee will submit a report to the revenue board with suggestions to settle the sector's tax-related disputes.
At present, mobile operators and the revenue board have disputes involving Tk 4,405.01 crore on issues relating to SIM replacement, interest on SIM tax, VAT on commercial rent and illegal rebate.
The revenue board also has an unresolved Tk 765.91 crore VAT rebate issue involving the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission, according to an official who attended the meeting.
The BTRC is trying to collect VAT from the operators but they refused to pay as the telecom regulator does not have the authority to do so.
Besides, it would be a challenge for the operators to get rebate from the NBR against the VAT given to the commission. The committee, headed by an NBR member on VAT policy, will have to submit a report within seven working days, according to the meeting participants.
The meeting also discussed ways to resolve tax disputes through out-of-the-court settlements and take steps collectively to solve cases pending with the courts.
“The meeting helped to break the ice”, said Matiur Rahman, commissioner for large taxpayers' unit.
“This will facilitate realisation of arrear tax that has remained stuck for legal complexities,” he added.
Recently, the LTU has asked four mobile operators to furnish Tk 883 crore to the state coffer as tax for issuing replacement SIMs between July 2012 and June 2015.
Earlier, the NBR demanded Tk 3,061.16 crore as SIM tax between July 2007 and December 2011. The NBR revised down its claim to Tk 251.21 crore when the operators refused to participate in the 3G auction until the settlement of the tax disputes.
However, the VAT Appellate Tribunal last year gave a verdict in favour of the LTU, instructing the operators to pay Tk 2,048 crore as tax. The verdict though has thrown the mobile operators' participation in the upcoming 4G licensing auction into uncertainty.