A taskforce of the National Board of Revenue will conduct sudden drives at non-company business entities to detect illegal foreign workers and bring those along with their employers to book.
The taskforce on prevention of tax evasion by illegal foreign workers took the decision as it observed that a significant number of unauthorised foreign nationals were working in beauty parlours, fast food outlets, restaurants, English medium schools and other proprietorships and partnership businesses.
Insignificant outcomes from scheduled visits to companies have also motivated the taskforce to look at non-company business initiatives with possible foreign recruits due to the nature of the businesses.
Members of the taskforce said that they conducted several scheduled visits to dozens of companies over the last six months but hardly found unauthorised foreign workers.
They said that the findings were contrary to the common perception that a large numbers of foreign nationals were working illegally in the country, evading income tax and draining huge amount of foreign currency.
In 2016, the revenue board formed the national taskforce and two regional taskforces for Dhaka and Chittagong to inspect factories to detect illegal foreign workers and prepare a database of foreigners working in the country. But the teams are yet to make any significant contribution.
A member of the taskforce attributed the process of the visits for the failure in detecting illegal foreign workers at factories.
‘After receiving prior notices, factory managements got enough time to cover illegal foreign workers ahead of NBR teams’ visits to the factories at a scheduled time,’ he said.
During the visits, the factories declared about only those foreigners who had legal documents and were paying taxes, he added.
Tax officials found a few number of illegal workers who came to the country with tourist visas while some were working with expired documents.
In this context, the taskforce revised it strategy and decided to carry out sudden visits to premises of both company and non-company business entities, he said.
They would start inspection at anytime, he said.
The tax intelligence might also conduct intensive investigation on information before conducting visits, he added.
He said that non-company entities were brought under consideration of sudden visits as they had information that many foreigners were working in the sector without valid documents like work permits.
The NBR also reconstituted the taskforce keeping the representatives from other sectors, including from the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry, for providing advisory support to the taskforce.
Now, only tax officials will visit the factories, business premises of companies and non-company entities.
Private sector representatives will not accompany the teams in field inspection to ensure privacy of taxpayers’ information.
As per Income Tax Ordinance 1984, the tax authority is bound to protect the privacy of taxpayers’ information.
Foreign workers have to pay income tax at the rate of 30 per cent on their income.
Although the government agencies have no data on the number of foreign workers in Bangladesh, tax authorities suspect that the number of illegal foreign workers could be more than several lakh.
They are working in the country with the support of local employers who recruit foreign nationals illegally to evade tax.
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