Misuse of tax benefits by fish, poultry businesses continues unabated

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A file photo shows a man putting fish in a pick-up truck at a fish farm. Misuse of tax benefits given to fish and poultry sectors has continued unabated due to lack of proper mechanism of the National Board of Revenue to crosscheck the income shown by the taxpayers from the sectors. — Focusbangla photo

Misuse of tax benefits given to fish and poultry sectors has continued unabated due to lack of proper mechanism of the National Board of Revenue to crosscheck the income shown by the taxpayers from the sectors.

Tax officials said that they used to express their inability to check the misuse of the benefits given to the sectors without conditions or setting crosschecking mechanism against taxpayers’ claim of income from the sectors.

Taxpayers do not require submitting any effective document or proof against income from the sector, they said.

The NBR first in 2013 offered the concession against income from fish and poultry sectors and later in early 2015 withdrew the facility following misuse of the benefit.

The tax administration in July, 2015 reintroduced the tax benefit upon pressure from influential groups of people and offered concession against income from the sectors.

According to the NBR, income up to Tk 20 lakh from the sectors is completely tax-free while taxpayers pay only 5 per cent tax on income worth Tk 10 lakh after Tk 20 lakh tax-free limit and 10 per cent income tax on the remaining income.

The regular tax rate for companies is 35 per cent for non-listed companies, 25 per cent for listed companies and for individuals the rate ranges from 10 per cent to 30 per cent in the current fiscal year.

The Anti-Corruption Commission in a recent letter to the revenue board alleged that dishonest people had been showing huge income from fish, poultry, agriculture and businesses of miscellaneous goods despite not having income from the sectors to legalise their illegal income.

ACC secretary Muhammad Dilwar Bakht in the letter sent to the NBR chairman on February 26 wrote that in most cases income tax officials accepted the income of taxpayers without proper crosschecking, creating a room for corruption and scope for legalising illegal income of dishonest people.

The ACC in its inquiry and investigation hardly finds any authenticity of such income.

The ACC requested the NBR to examine the ground reality before accepting income figures shown by taxpayers from the sectors.

The Fish Farm Owners Association, Bangladesh (FOAB) on June 16 in a letter to the NBR demanded checking the abuse of the facility of tax exemption and proposed a number of steps so that only actual businesspersons got the benefit.

The FOAB said that the NBR should first identify the actual fish farmers and impose a number of conditions, including providing a number of documents, for availing the benefit.

The association said that taxpayers should provide trade licence, proper documents of ownership or lease of land, pond or fishing grounds, licence for fishing grounds, licence for hatchery along with income tax returns for getting the facility.

The NBR should also make mandatory provision of taking membership of the FOAB, the trade organisation of fish farming businesspersons, and recommendation letter from the association for availing the benefit.

FOAB president Molla Shamsur Rahman Shahin also sent the copies of the letter to finance minister, commerce minister, fisheries minister, secretaries of the respective ministries and the ACC chairman for talking necessary actions.

Officials of the NBR said that there might not be any change to the existing statutory regulatory order regarding the benefits in the Finance Bill-20 to be passed in parliament today.

The FOAB letter reached late to the income tax policy team, they said. The NBR can also bring changes to the SRO through administrative process, they added.

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