The National Board of Revenue has instructed its income tax offices not to take any signature from taxpayers and their authorised representatives on blank order sheet and ensure tax-friendly environment at the tax offices.
Taxes legal and enforcement wing of the revenue board on December 17 issued an eight-point instruction to its 31 income tax commissioners following demands of practicing tax lawyers.
According to the directive signed by NBR member (taxes legal and enforcement) Md Sirajul Islam, field offices would have to ensure representations of qualified persons as per income tax law in disputes related to income tax.
NBR also asked the commissioners to be careful in reopening tax files and be certain about the applicability of the related provisions in a particular tax file before taking any initiative under the provisions of reopening.
Officials concerned including circle officer, range officer and commissioner should be involved directly in selection of tax files for audit as there were allegations that supporting staff of tax offices play role in selection process.
In the directive, NBR said that taxpayers who would show income 15 per cent higher in tax file than that of previous year should be kept out of audit.
Tax lawyers’ associations including Bangladesh Tax Lawyers Association and Dhaka Tax Lawyers Association had for long been alleging that deputy commissioners of taxes often force the taxpayers and their authorised representatives to sign on blank order sheet and later issue orders on their will ignoring the procedures.
They also alleged that in most cases, unauthorised people, mostly employees of tax department, illegally represent the taxpayers in disputes related to income tax violating the tax law and depriving the legal practitioners.
According to the Income Tax Ordinance-1984, only taxpayers themselves, their family members, employees, tax lawyers, professional accountants and income tax practitioners could represent a taxpayer before the tax department and appellate tribunal.
Officials of the revenue board said the directive was issued to resolve the allegations along with some other problems raised by the BTLA.
At a partnership dialogue with the revenue board held at IDEB auditorium in Dhaka, BTLA leaders on Tuesday welcomed the issuance of the instructions and sought assurance of its full implementation.
BTLA president Monirul Huda alleged that unauthorised persons were dealing with 75 per cent tax files.
Even drivers of tax commissionerates are representing taxpayers at tax offices, he said.
He also sought independence of Taxes Appellate Tribunal by appointing its members from judiciary.
Members of the benches of the tribunal could not produce judgment independently as the two members were appointed from the tax department, he said.
BTLA secretary general MA Gafur Majumder demanded appointment of at least one member of every bench either from judiciary or other sectors.
NBR chairman Md Nojibur Rahman said that a consultative committee was formed on December 24 to identify the areas of cooperation between the tax department and tax lawyers.
The committee would make recommendations to establish revenue-friendly culture in the country as well as frame the new income tax law, he said.
The NBR has been working to transform the tax department into transparent and accountable one to serve the taxpayers, he said.
NBR members Md Sirajul Islam, commissioner (large taxpayers’ unit) Alamgir Hossain, DTLA president Khorshed Alam, general secretary Md Bodiuzzaman, among others, spoke at the meeting.
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