NBR, ACC on collision course over access to tax files

Staff Correspondent | Published: 00:00, May 03,2019


National Board of Revenue chairman Md Mosharraf Hossain Bhuiyan on Thursday said they would not provide taxpayers’ documents including income tax returns on wholesale basis to Anti-Corruption Commission going against the provision of income tax law on confidentially of taxpayers’ information.
The board, rather, will provide information, as it gives now, on specific cases or allegations that would be inquired or investigated by ACC, he said at a pre-budget discussion with the Economic Reporters Forum at NBR headquarters in Dhaka.
The statement of NBR chairman is contradictory with the recent move of ACC to amend its rules for getting full access to income tax files and banker’s book for the purpose of investigation into corruption allegations against a person.
The proposed amendment to ACC rules, which is now waiting for law ministry vetting, said that no other laws could restrain the inquiry and investigation officials of ACC from seeking and seizing the tax documents and banker’s books, if they felt it necessary.
In reply to a question of ERF members, Mosharraf said that there was no scope of deviation from Income Tax Ordinance 1984 which made taxpayers’ information confidential.
‘We will provide information and documents for the purpose of inquiry and investigation on specific
allegations after filing a case or ACC will investigate into the allegations,’ he said.
NBR also strongly conveyed its position regarding maintaining secrecy of taxpayers’ information at a meeting recently held with law minister, he said.
He said that the provision of income tax law would be followed in this connection.
He also said that ACC had also no jurisdiction to seek information of any taxpayer and hopefully it would not seek on wholesale basis.
Earlier on Saturday, ACC director general (legal and prosecution) Moyeedul Islam told New Age that ACC investigation officials could get the documents even under the existing provisions of ACC Act as per an Appellate Division verdict and income tax law.
But, ACC took the move to amend the law as sometimes tax officials were found reluctant to provide the required information, misquoting the income tax law, he said.
On the proposal of reduction of corporate income tax, NBR chairman said that it would not drastically reduce the tax unless it finds alternative sources of revenue collection.
Referring the lower corporate tax for listed companies, he said that many companies were not willing to be listed fearing the proper account maintenance system and transparency.
NBR will also gradually come out from offering tax exemption culture, he said.
The new VAT law will come into force from the date of budget implementation, he said, adding that the date might be June 13.
He also said that NBR might engage private firms for receiving income tax returns online.
Taxpayers will go to the firms, like they go to income tax lawyers, to process tax returns online, he added.
NBR member (income tax policy) Kanon Kumar Roy, customs policy member Firoz Shah Alam, ERF president Saiful Islam Dilal, secretary SM Rashidul Islam, among others, spoke at the meeting.

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