Income tax fair a welcome step
We welcome the National Board of Revenue's awarding 360 taxpayers with crests and certificates on the National Income Tax Day on Saturday. A weeklong fair to create awareness about tax paying, which begins today in the seven divisional cities and some other districts, also deserves commendation. But are these steps good enough to inject the kind of vigour and a sense of purpose that are required to make tax robber barons pay their dues?
To begin with, Bangladesh has a disproportionately low Tax Identification Number (TIN) holders compared to other countries, which must be increased. More importantly, number of TIN holders at present stands nearly at 35 lakh whereas only 10.56 lakh which constitutes even less than a third of the total number, have filed their tax returns in the fiscal year 2011-12. This huge gulf between TIN holders and their tax returns must be bridged through appropriate legal measures that NBR is empowered with.
Our shock comes from some latest scams that unravel big holes in the tax collection system. Some big business companies such as Destiny, have evaded huge amount of tax money. We also recall the managing director of Hall Mark bragging about his assets being 20 times bigger than the money he 'swindled' from the Sonali Bank. Later, NBR itself revealed after investigation that he had concealed information of FDRs at several banks.
Rampant allegations that a section of unscrupulous tax officials harass regular taxpayers in different phases ranging from obtaining a TIN number to tax returns will also have to be gone into.
The government, or for that matter, the NBR exert pressure on honest taxpayers to pay more or bring other modestly solvent people under the tax net. But they should realize that public confidence in the tax system is at a discount when the corrupt and the dishonest slip through the cracks.