Shahnuzzaman Shanto, a young taxpayer, queued eagerly in front of a booth with the acknowledgement receipt of his tax return submission for the year 2017-18 at the tax fair that began in Dhaka yesterday.
His friend Imran stood behind him in the same line and waited for their turns to show the receipts and get “Income Tax ID Card”, a new initiative taken by the National Board of Revenue to coax taxpayers into compliance and bring in more people to the tax net.
After waiting for a couple of minutes in the line, each of them got machine-generated cards that contained their names, Taxpayer's Identification Numbers, tax zones and acknowledgement for submission of tax returns for 2017-18.
“This is really very good. I feel proud to get such a card,” said Shanto as soon as he was handed over the card.
He inquired taxmen about the usage of the cards. Taxmen told him that the cards are issued acknowledging receipt of returns submission.
Like Shanto and Imran, taxpayers who submitted returns at the income tax fair at the NBR's under construction building at Agargaon in Dhaka were also given Income Tax ID Cards as recognition and proof of tax payment.
And taxpayers received the plastic card cheerfully, although as of now it does not bring any extra incentive for them. “We are already using various sorts of cards. And this card can be used for many purposes as it contains TIN that is necessary for accomplishing many tasks. I will be able to claim that I am a regular taxpayer,” said Md Jasim Uddin, another taxpayer.
Taxmen said the income tax ID card is one of the several incentives that are given to encourage people into tax payment and create a tax culture in the country, where many deliberately remain out of the tax net despite having taxable income.
In recent years, the number of tax return submissions has risen thanks to various measures, including regular holding of tax fairs since 2010 enabling individual taxpayers to complete their annual tax formalities on the spot in a hassle-free environment.
The introduction of electronically generated TIN, recognition of top taxpayers and rules tightening by the NBR to increase collection of payroll tax not only brought in an increased number of taxpayers but also buoyed the rate of submission of income tax returns.
For example, the number of e-TINs, that stood at 16.51 lakh on June 30, 2015, almost doubled to 31 lakh early this week.
On June 30 of fiscal 2015-16, 10.96 lakh taxpayers submitted their returns.
The number rose 42 percent to 15.56 lakh in a year after the tax authority tightened rules to ensure increased collection of payroll tax, which accounts for 2 percent of the total tax collection in a year.
The NBR last year framed rules making it mandatory for public sector employees drawing more than Tk 16,000 in monthly salary to have a TIN. It also made submission of returns mandatory for public sector employees with a basic salary of Tk 16,000 and more.
This year, the government has brought changes in rules that require employers to ensure returns submission by their employees.
Unless employees with taxable income of an organisation submit tax returns, expenses claimed by the employers as salary payment will not be accepted and taxmen will have the authority to disallow expenses as salary, officials said.
Apart from rules tightening, for the first time the tax authority is set to recognise those families whose members have been paying tax for a long time.
The NBR plans to honour 16 families in Dhaka district, 8 in Chittagong district and one family from each of the remaining districts with the title of “Kar Bahadur”.
And along with the recognition, the tax authority will give stickers reading “I am a proud taxpayer”.
“The sticker can be glued to windshields of cars or at their residence,” said Md Abdur Razzaque, a member of the tax administration.
The NBR plans to roll out the scheme of Income Tax ID Card and sticker throughout the country gradually, said Razzaque at the inauguration of the fair in Dhaka, where State Minister for Finance and Planning MA Mannan was present. NBR Chairman Md Nojibur Rahman said the revenue authority will take the initiative to provide a tax payment PIN to taxpayers.
Just after the opening of the fair yesterday, thousands of individual taxpayers thronged the venue, particularly in Dhaka, to complete tax procedures for 2017-18 -- be it for filing of returns or submission of returns.
On the first day of the fair, 79,112 taxpayers received various services, up 33 percent year-on-year.
The number of tax returns submission shot up 93 percent year-on-year to 31,041 yesterday, according to the NBR.