The process of creating an online database of income tax returns by the National Board of Revenue is facing obstacles as a large number of taxpayers submitted their returns in different circle offices instead of their appropriate circle offices.
Field-level tax offices are also facing difficulties in digitisation of tax returns due to a shortage of manpower and an excessive pressure of regular works including returns assessment and revenue collection.
So far, tax offices have digitised only around 9 lakh out of 15 lakh tax returns submitted by both individual and corporate taxpayers in the fiscal year 2016-2017 even after time extension for twice, officials of the revenue board said.
Income tax wing of the NBR has now extended the time up to June, 2018 for uploading the information of all tax returns both new ones filed by the taxpayers in the current fiscal year and last year’s pending 6 lakh returns, they said.
Tax offices were supposed to complete the task of uploading of all income tax returns’ information on its online return filing system by March 31, 2017.
The NBR took the initiative to create digital profiles of all taxpayers through converting the hard copy of tax returns into digital ones after launching electronic submission of income tax returns in November 2016 under Bangladesh Integrated Tax or BiTAX project.
A total of 15.56 lakh individuals submitted their income tax returns in the current FY18 while 2.79 lakh submitted petitions seeking more time for filing tax returns, according to the NBR data.
The number of tax returns may increase as many taxpayers would submit their returns in late by paying penalty.
It would be very difficult for the field offices to complete the process of digitisation of more or less 25 lakh tax returns by the given time mainly because of a shortage of manpower and logistic supports, said a NBR senior official.
He said that tax offices would not require uploading the tax returns if taxpayers would file their returns online.
But, a very insignificant number of taxpayers filed their tax returns online in the first two years, they added.
In FY17, only 273 taxpayers filed their tax returns online though some 5,000 taxpayers obtained user IDs and passwords.
The NBR has yet to publish the number of taxpayers who availed the scope of e-filing in the current fiscal year.
Field-level tax officials usually remain busy with their regular works that include assessing tax files and collecting revenues.
Uploading tax returns on online system has appeared an additional task without any extra manpower for the tax offices which have already been conducting its activities with 70 per cent of its required manpower, said another tax official.
Field offices also suffer from lack of technical manpower as well as IT support.
On the other hand, a large number of tax returns were submitted in different tax circles instead of appropriate circles, he said adding that the problem was created due to changes of jurisdiction of the offices on several occasions.
Many taxpayers submitted their tax returns at their previous circle offices though their tax circles have already been changed due to the expansion of tax department, he said.
NBR member and BiTAX project director Kalipada Halder on Sunday told New Age that the digitization process would now get momentum as workload of field-level tax offices has eased a little bit after the expiry of deadline for returns submission.
He said that some tax zones including Rangpur, Khulna, Mymensingh and Sylhet had already completed major parts of tax returns digitisation.
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