The Financial Express

Whitening black money: Others abuse fish farmers’ tax benefit

| Updated: June 30, 2020 11:43:51

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A vested quarter is allegedly legalising their black money by taking advantage of the tax benefit meant for the fish farmers.

Fish farmers have alleged that despite having no such business, some people were showing income from fish farms due to lack of effective monitoring by the tax department.

They also alleged that this group of people were paying a small amount of taxes showing that they earned the money from the so-called fish farms, which does not even exist in reality.

Currently, the fish farm owners enjoy a special rate of reduced tax under a Statutory Regulatory Order (SRO) of the National Board of Revenue (NBR).

For availing the reduced tax rate, the taxpayers do not have to furnish any document such as licences or other papers with the tax returns as a proof of having a fish farm.

Both the fish farmers and Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) recently drew attention of the NBR in this regard to ensure an effective monitoring system.

The Fish Farm Owners Association, Bangladesh (FFOAB) on Thursday last had a meeting with the high-ups of the NBR to discuss the issue.

Earlier, the ACC also sent a letter to the NBR raising question about the income of some people from the traceless or fake fish farms.

In a letter to the NBR, FFOAB president Molla Shamsur Rahman Shahin requested imposing some conditions against the tax benefit including having a trade licence, contract paper of ownership or lease of ponds, legal licences of fish farms and fish hatchery and certification from the association.

As per Fish Hatchery Rules-2011 and fish and fish product (inspection and quality control) rules-1997, the fish farms and hatchery owners must have the valid licences.

The reduced tax rate on the income of fish farms, hatchery, poultry and shrimp farms remained effective since 2015.

The tax on income from fish farms, poultry and shrimp farms is exempted up to Tk 2.0 million while tax would be levied at 5.0 per cent on next income of Tk 1.0 million (up to Tk 3.0 million) and 10 per cent for rest of the income.

However, the corporate tax rate for non-listed companies is 35 per cent and for listed ones 25 per cent in the current FY.

ACC secretary Delwar Bakht, in a letter to the NBR, said that the ACC investigation found some people were showing income from fish farms, poultry etc., which the income tax wing was accepting without scrutiny.

"A section of corrupt people is taking advantage of this tax benefit to legalise their black money," he writes.

In most of the cases, the ACC did not find any evidence of such income-generating sources, he added.

He requested the NBR to verify the sources of such income before accepting this.

The FFOAB also proposed the NBR to ensure obtaining their membership and recommendations so that the genuine fish farmers can get the tax benefit.

To identify the real fish farmers, they demanded imposing a condition to submit valid licences and membership of the FFOAB with the income tax returns.

FFOAB is the only trade organisation that represents the fish farm owners, they said.

"We have already submitted a proposal to the NBR to identify the actual fish farms and stop abusing the tax exemption and reduced tax rate, and mitigate the tendency to legalise the illegal income of dishonest people," said Md Omar Faruq, legal adviser to the FFOAB.

The proposal needs immediate attention of the government to check the abuse of the facility, he added.



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