NBR gives special focus on tax from foreign workers

| Updated: October 23, 2017 17:58:39

NBR gives special focus on tax from foreign workers


The National Board of Revenue (NBR) has decided to pay special attention on collecting tax from foreigners working in the country.


NBR chairman M Nojibur Rahman gave the directives at a meeting with the field level officials a couple of weeks ago.


“There are allegations that the service holder foreigners evade taxes by not submitting their income tax returns or show less salaries and allowances in their income tax returns,” a senior NBR official told UNB.


To check this sort of irregularities, the NBR chairman gave the instruction to show zero tolerance towards the tax evaders, locals or foreigners, he added.


There are also allegations that the employer took the path of money laundering to pay the salary and allowances of the foreign workers.


Some foreigners change their address after entering in the country taking the scope of on-arrival visa.


The NBR has taken a decision to intensify its intelligence activities for curbing tax evasion by the foreign nationals.


The NBR chairman in the meeting asked Central Intelligence Cell (CIC), Customs Intelligence and VAT Intelligence to work in a coordinated and integrated way in this regard.


“NBR has the information that a good number of foreign nationals are staying in the country without valid documents and engaged in services in various trades. Taking this advantage, the local business houses don’t give information about their foreign employees to the NBR. And for this, the country is being deprived of taxes,” the NBR official said.


To stop income tax dodging by the foreigners, a new section has also been added to the Income Tax Ordinance in 2015-16 under which one will be jailed for three months to three years and will be penalised Tk 0.5 million or both if he/she appoints any foreigner without prior permission of the authorities concerned. The companies will also lose tax holiday or exemption benefits.


Currently, around 450,000 foreign nationals, mostly from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, China, Taiwan, South Korea and some European and African countries are working legally or illegally in Bangladesh.


They are now working at different non-government organisations (NGOs), hotels, restaurants, educational institutions, garments, hospitals and various industries when only 11,000 of them are paying the income tax regularly, according to the NBR sources.


All the foreigners are bound to pay 30 per cent tax on their income.


Besides, many of them are working without any work authorisation and leaving the country secretly without paying their due taxes.


Officials alleged that some unscrupulous employers also help their foreign workers evade their taxes as they work on temporary basis, renewing their work permits every three months.


According to the Board of Investment or BoI data, nearly 12,000 foreigners receive work permit from the authority each year.


Last year, the NBR formed two task forces in Dhaka and Chittagong, comprising representatives from civil aviation, NSI, Special Branch, DGFI and other related ministries of the government, aiming to bring the foreign nationals working in Bangladesh under the tax net.


A member of the taskforce in Dhaka said that they are working to prepare a database of the foreign nationals to find out their actual number in Bangladesh.


This database will include a foreign nation’s name, passport number, address of the working place, address in Bangladesh, type of work, salary and allowances and income tax payment.


Meanwhile, the NBR has introduced special income tax cells at three international airports - Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport in Dhaka, Shah Amanat International Airport in Chittagong, MAG Osmani International Airport in Sylhet - and at Benapole Land Port for ensuring that all foreign workers and employees pay income tax before leaving the country.


Under the Income Tax Ordinance, foreigners have to pay income tax if they stay and work in the country for 90 days a year.

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