The National Board of Revenue has decided to inspect at least 30 factories without notice to find out illegal foreign workers in the second phase of such drive after getting a mixed outcome from the inspections at five companies in the first phase.
The tax authority in October last year initiated the move to check income tax evasion by foreign nationals working in the country with the connivance of their employers.
The central task force of the revenue board in the first phase inspected five factories in last five months, scrutinised documents including salary and attendance sheets related to foreign workers and found a number of foreigners working at four of the companies without permission from the authorities concerned and paying income tax.
Officials of the revenue board said that the inspection activities did not bring expected results as the task force members informed the companies prior to their visits.
So, the companies got time to remove or hide irregularities related to the appointment of undocumented foreign nationals, they said.
The task force visited multinational companies and companies located at the export processing zones, which are generally compliant due to higher monitoring by the authorities.
Of the inspected companies, only one company was found fully compliant with the NBR rules and regulations regarding employment of foreign nationals.
In this context, the revenue board has recently asked its 30 field-level income tax offices to send names of two factories each under their jurisdiction having foreign employees, said a senior official of the NBR.
The task force will finally select the companies at which the sudden drive would be conducted, he said.
He said that this time the factories would be selected for the drive based on the risk factors including possibility of employment of illegal foreigners and demand for foreign workers.
NBR member (legal and enforcement) and the task force head Serajul Islam on Saturday told New Age that they wrote letters to field offices seeking names of companies.
‘Hopefully, the nature and other details of the planned drive will be finalised soon,’ he said.
He, however, declined to disclose the names of the companies where the task force found illegal foreign workers during the first phase drive.
‘We have started a process to take legal action as per income tax law against the employers,’ he said.
According to the Income Tax Ordinance-1984, taxmen can impose penalty on companies and their owners as much as 50 per cent of their total payable income tax, or Tk 5 lakh, and scrap all other tax benefits as fine for recruiting unauthorised foreign nationals.
Employers must obtain permit from the Bangladesh Investment Development Authority and other agencies concerned for recruiting each foreigner.
Foreign workers will also have to pay income tax at the rate of 30 per cent.
But income tax officials suspect that many foreigners are evading tax as most of them are working in the country without approval of the BIDA and other related agencies.
There is no authentic information to any authorities about the actual number of foreign workers in the country.
On average, 11,000 foreigners have tax files with the NBR though different agencies including the NBR suspect that the number of foreign workers in the country to be several lakhs, mostly from India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and some western countries. They are mostly working in textile, readymade garment, engineering, manufacturing and services sectors.
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