Income tax, value added tax (VAT), and customs management system of the National Board of Revenue (NBR) need to be more taxpayer-friendly, say experts.
Speedy completion of various automation activities of the NBR and creating coordination among the three departments should be focused in this regard, they said Monday at a webinar organised by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Bangladesh (ICAB).
"There is no inter-departmental connectivity for proper coordination among the three departments," Mohammad Humayun Kabir, former ICAB president pointed out.
"Although online tax payment has been talked about for many years, the progress, in reality, is very little," Md Farid Uddin, former NBR member said at the webinar presided over by ICAB President Md Shahadat Hossain.
Speakers participating in the discussion expressed their dissatisfaction with the current status of the three laws of the NBR. They raised the issue of Income Tax Law and Customs Law not yet being passed despite long discussions. Besides, they said that the new VAT law has also been distorted from the proposed law of 2012.
Md Farid Uddin questioned the rationale of the existing 15% VAT rate.
He said, it is necessary to consider how effective VAT will be at 15% rate, because although large companies have the opportunity to take rebates, it becomes more than 15% in some cases due to the cascading effect for small companies.
Former NBR member Ranjan Kumar Bhowmik pointed out several inconsistencies and misinterpretations in the latest circulars (directives) issued by the Finance Act and Tax Department.
He also said that due to these misinterpretations, the stock market has been affected recently.
Besides, he asked how much benefit the tax amnesty given in the budget will actually provide in bringing the assets held abroad into the country.
He said it needs to be seen whether people use this opportunity and smuggle wealth out of the country and then bring it back with the benefit of 7% tax.
Participating in the discussion, two current members of NBR said creating inter-departmental coordination among the institution is in progress. Besides, several recent online activities are ongoing.
Planning Minister MA Mannan, the chief guest of the event, said, "The government is ready for reform."
The minister sought the help of experts in this regard.
Professional accountants Shehasish Barua and Lutful Hadee presented the keynote paper, while NBR members Mohammad Jahid Hasan, Abdul Mannan Skiker spoke among others.