Travel tax collection from outgoing international passengers witnessed a negative growth of 7.90 per cent in last fiscal year of 2018-2019 although the number of people travelled abroad in the period increased significantly.
According to the National Board of Revenue data, collection of travel tax stood at Tk 1,019 crore in FY19 against that of Tk 1,106 crore received in the previous fiscal year of 2017-2018.
Travel tax collection also missed by Tk 393 crore the target (Tk 1,412 crore) set for FY19, the NBR data showed.
The tax authorities had collected Tk 1,057 crore in travel tax in the FY 2016-2017.
Outgoing international passengers have to pay travel tax at various rates ranging from Tk 500 to Tk 4,000 for various destinations and mode of transports used.
According to officials of immigration department of the home ministry, the number of outgoing international passengers increased significantly in FY19 from that of FY18.
The number of people visited various countries (through mainly air and land routes) reached around 17,000 a day in the year, up around 1,000 a day on FY18, they said.
The Association of Travel Agents of Bangladesh said 26.71 lakh air tickets were sold in the 2018 calendar year with monthly average sales of 2.23 lakh from Bangladesh against 25.22 lakh with monthly average sales of 2.10 lakh in 2017.
In the first seven months (January-July) of 2019, the number of air tickets sold from the country stood at 15.90 lakh with monthly average sales of 2.27 lakh.
The trend indicates that the number of visitors destined for other countries has been increasing every year. On the other hand, a large number of outgoing international passengers visit India from Bangladesh and the number has been surging over the years.
According to the India Tourism Statistics 2018 prepared by the country’s tourism ministry, the number of Bangladeshis visited India was 21.56 lakh in 2017 with a sharp rise by more than 56 per cent compared with that of 13.80 lakh in 2016.
The number of visitors might increase further in 2018.
Income tax officials, however, remain puzzled over why the tax collection from the sector declined although all indicators showed that the number of outgoing passengers has been rising.
They said that tax collection might drop due to possibility of decline in the number of air passengers to India as a large number of them visited the country through land and rail routes due to improved facilities.
India has also expanded the land routes for traveling to the country.
The rate for travel tax for land routes, mainly connected with India, is Tk 500 per person and the rate is Tk 1,200 per person in case of travelling to the same destination through airways.
The officials, however, are not sure whether there was any incidence of tax evasion although tax officials strongly monitored the activities of travel agents.
According to the Determination of Foreign Travel Tax Rate Rules-2014 of the NBR, every passenger traveling to SAARC countries including India by air has to pay Tk 1,200 as travel tax, traveling by land routes Tk 500 and traveling by waterways Tk 800.
The tax is set at Tk 4,000 for passengers travelling to North and South America, Australia, New Zealand, Europe, Africa, China, Japan, Hong Kong, North and South Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Taiwan.
The tax is set at Tk 3,000 for traveling to rest of the countries.
Travel agents, airlines or other ticketing agencies collect the tax along with ticket fare and then deposit the tax in the government exchequer while customs authorities collect the tax in cash at land ports, NBR officials said.
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