The High Court on Sunday asked the Bangladesh Bank, the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Authority and the National Board of Revenue to immediately collect value added tax and income tax on the earnings of international digital service provider platforms from Bangladesh.
The court also directed the respondents to realise the outstanding VAT and income tax on the incomes of the platforms like Google, Facebook, Amazon, Yahoo and YouTube and the other online media outlets from Bangladesh for the last five years.
The court asked the National Board of Revenue to submit a report of the progress on the collection of the revenue in each six months.
The bench of Justice Md Ashraful Kamal and Justice Razik-Al-Jalil pronounced the verdict after hearing a public interest litigation writ petition filed by Supreme Court lawyers Md Humaun Kabir, Md Kawsar, Abu Zafar Md Saleh, Apurbo Kumar Biswas, Sazzadul Islam and Md Mazedul Kader.
Every citizen of the country, the court said, can seek legal remedy if the respondents fail to comply with the directives.
The court in its judgement expressed dissatisfaction over the role of the respondents on the issue.
The respondents also include secretaries of the ministries of finance, Post and Telecommunication Division, Information and Communication Technology Division in addition to the Bangladesh Bank governor, the NBR chairman and the BTRC chairman.
Petitioners’ lawyer Humaun Kabir told reporters that the earnings of digital platforms like Google, Facebook, Amazon.com, Yahoo, YouTube from Bangladesh had progressively increased since 2007 but they paid no taxes on theirs earnings and profits.
He said that individuals as well as companies in Bangladesh taking services from these platforms against payments were also liable to be taxed under the country’s income tax law.
The Newspaper Owners’ Association of Bangladesh and the Association of Television Channel Owners in several meetings with the NBR chairman earlier expressed concern over the country’s domestic media industry losing huge advertisement earnings as the social media platforms were taking away some 50 per cent of the online advertisement revenue.
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