The National Board of Revenue (NBR) is working to reduce the tax burden on taxpayers – businesses in particular – by extending the tax net, its Chairman Abu Hena Md Rahmatul Muneem said on Sunday.
Although there are around 70 lakh tax identification number (e-TIN) holders in the country, merely one-third of them submit their tax returns. The number stood at around 24 lakh last year.
"We want to continue the transparent tax collection process. Therefore, the process of paying taxes will be made easier," the NBR chief said at a pre-budget meeting at the Bangabandhu Conference Hall of the World Trade Center in Chattogram on Sunday afternoon.
"Besides, work is underway to add an automation system in tax collection which will solve many problems," he added.
Muneem said many people do not file an income tax return even after registration, and he sought the cooperation of the Chattogram Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI) to increase the number of income tax return filers.
"We have also identified a good number of corporate bodies. We are working to bring them under the tax net," he added.
In the pre-budget discussion, small businesses proposed a further increase in value-added tax (VAT) for online companies.
The NBR chairman said online business is just evolving. There is also a request not to impose taxes on them.
At the meeting, CCCI President Mahbubul Alam called for increasing the tax-free income limit for individuals from Tk3 lakh to Tk4 lakh, considering the current global situation and inflation.
He also requested the revenue authorities to reduce the corporate tax rate from 22.5% to 20% for listed companies and from 30% to 27.5% for others.
In the case of imposing surcharge, Mahbubul Alam proposed an increase in the threshold from Tk3 crore to Tk5 crore.
Syed Nazrul Islam, first vice-president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), said four crore people are directly and indirectly involved in the garment industry.
"The authorities must patronise the industry by improving the ease of doing business," he added.
AKM Akhter Hossain, president of the Chittagong Customs C&F Agents Association, said even after importing goods with proper declaration due to inconsistency in harmonised system (HS) code, they are facing a fine of up to 200-300%.
HS Code is a common standard worldwide for classifying traded goods. Customs use it to identify products while assessing duties.
Industry insiders say they need to import new types of raw materials that are not on the NBR's harmonised list owing to a constantly changing market.
Meanwhile, Altaf Hossain Bachchu, senior vice-president of the association, proposed to set uniform tariff rates at customs stations across the country.
At the exchange of views, businesses demanded to reduce the rate of source tax at the supply level on the iron and iron products from 2% to 1%.
In addition, they proposed introducing VAT of Tk2 per kg at the import stage instead of the current 7% VAT at the selling stage of liquefied petroleum gas.
NBR members Md Masud Sadiq, Zakia Sultana and Shamsuddin Ahmed also spoke at the meeting.