Businesses that have failed to file value-added tax (VAT) returns of March and April owing to the countrywide shutdown are set to get a new deadline in June to complete the tasks, said a senior official of the National Board of Revenue yesterday.
"We will soon allow them to submit returns without any fine or interest," said the official asking not to be named as he is not authorised to speak with the media.
An order will be issued soon with the new deadline based on approval from Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal. As the shutdown is set to expire on May 30, the deadline for submission of returns is likely to be in the first week of June, the official added.
The revelation comes a day after the government issued an ordinance that the NBR, with the approval from the government, would be able to increase the deadline for submission of VAT returns without penalty and interest on account of natural disaster, pandemic or war.
The ordinance became effective retrospectively from April 1, six days after the government-enforced countrywide shutdown, to slow the spread of the rogue virus that shattered the economic and social lives of people around the globe.
Save for essential commodity processors and marketers, drug makers, superstores, groceries and perishable foods and banks, most of the businesses have remained shut.
While the NBR kept its field offices of VAT open in April and May to receive VAT returns, the majority of the businesses could not file returns on time because of the adverse environment.
As a result, they became defaulters, which means that they would have to pay a fine of Tk 10,000 for the delay.
The rules make it mandatory for businesses to submit details of their transactions of the previous month and deposit VAT within the 15th of the following month.
Firms have to pay Tk 10,000 as a penalty for failure to submit VAT returns within the deadline.
They can also seek time for delayed furnishing of returns but they have to pay 2 per cent simple interest on the payable VAT amount for delayed submission.
Revenue officials said they could not extend the deadline for filing VAT returns to reduce the hassles of companies as there was no scope in the currently effective VAT and Supplementary Act 2012.
With the ordinance empowering the NBR to extend deadline without penalty and interest, they would be able to offer respite to businesses that are also suffering from cash crunch for keeping shutters off for nearly two months.
Similarly, the NBR's income tax department will also issue an order extending the deadlines of time-bound issues such as submission of income tax returns, statement of income tax filing by employees and disposal of tax-related appeal cases.
To give relief to taxpayers, the government also issued another ordinance on May 20, giving power to the NBR to condone the period of the pandemic in computing the time limits, and extend time limits.
"We hope that the complexities that have arisen would be resolved once we issue an order after opening our office," said an income tax official at the NBR.