Tax collection off to a slow start | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, October 14, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:09 AM, October 14, 2019

Tax collection off to a slow start

Shortfall stands at Tk 9,317cr in Jul-Aug

Tax receipts grew only 3.35 percent in the first two months of the fiscal year, leaving a shortfall of Tk 9,317 crore in the National Board of Revenue’s annual target of Tk 325,600 crore.

Between July and August, the tax collector logged in Tk 29,620 crore in revenue against the goal of Tk 38,938 crore, much to the annoyance of Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal.

Taxmen blamed the implementation of the new value-added tax law and too many discounts and exemptions extended to various sectors for the slower collection growth.

In the first two months, tax collection from VAT, the biggest source of revenue, grew only 1.02 percent year-on-year to Tk 11,199 crore mainly because of a decline in receipts from cigarettes, the biggest source of VAT and supplementary duty.

Receipts from customs dropped 1.45 percent year-on-year to Tk 9,572 crore.

“The reasons you are citing for your failure are not a matter to consider,” Kamal told a meeting of top NBR officials and commissioners for income tax, VAT and customs at the NBR headquarters yesterday.

The meeting took place three months after Kamal placed his maiden budget, assigning taxmen to collect 45 percent, or Tk 101,708 crore, more than last fiscal year.

Taxmen are responsible for collecting revenue to help the government implement the budget and attain its development goals.

“We have to attain the revenue goals. If we cannot, from where will your salaries come? It is your responsibility,” Kamal told revenue officials.

Tax collection was roughly Tk 55,000 crore short of the target in fiscal 2018-19. “How will I recover this Tk 55,000 crore now?” he asked.

Income tax, the second biggest source of revenue, was the bright spot: its collection grew 12.56 percent during the period, according to data from the NBR.

Kamal said the reasons cited behind the sluggish collection growth now cannot be stated in the next meeting.

“Target has to be achieved. You have to come out of the mindset of escape, evade and avoidance. The target we have given is doable,” he added.

Referring to the NBR’s estimate that there are 4 crore people with taxable incomes, he directed taxmen to take action against those who are not paying tax.

The NBR would be given increased manpower to collect the increased amount of revenue.

“Many affluent people do not pay the amount of tax they should. But they spend a lot on shopping abroad. If they pay their tax properly the economy will get a lot of tax revenue,” the minister said.

He went on to ask the taxmen to show zero tolerance in ensuring compliance.

“I have come with great hopes -- do not let me down,” Kamal added.

At the meeting, NBR Chairman Md Mosharraf Hossain Bhuiyan said the revenue collection was down in the first two months in the last fiscal year.

In comparison to that, the collection was higher this year, he said, adding that long Eid holidays were one of the main factors for the lower collections in August.

He went on to assure that collections would increase in the coming months. 

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