In a bid to bring all foreign workers under tax net the National Board of Revenue (NBR) has planned to go tough against foreign nationals who are working here for a long but not paying income tax.
The NBR has already sent letters to its all tax zones seeking list of establishments where foreign nationals have been working. The NBR taskforce will carry out sudden operations in those establishments to catch foreigners dodging income tax, said NBR first secretary (Tax legal and enforcement) Abul Kalam Azad.
Talking to BSS, he said migrant Bangladeshis have to pay income tax before joining jobs but it is just opposite here in Bangladesh as many foreigners are working here without pay income tax properly. So, steps have been taken to bring those foreign workers under tax net, he added.
"We've already conducted operations in five establishments and indentified 15 foreigners who are not paying income tax," said Azad.
He said a fresh move has been taken to develop data base of foreign nationals working in Bangladesh. A committee headed by a commissioner has started working in full swing in this regard, he said, adding that a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) will be signed soon with the special branch of police to get information about foreigners.
"I am hopeful about completing such database within the next six months," said Azad.
To realize income tax from foreign workers properly a taskforce was formed in 2016 comprising representatives from Bangladesh Investment Development Board (BIDA), Special Branch of Police, DGFI, NSI, Bangladesh Bank, home ministry, BEPZA, directorate of passport, NGO Bureau and FBCCI.
Later, the taskforce was divided into two parts for Dhaka region and Chittagong region.
At present, there is no exact statistics with any government bodies about the number of foreign nationals working in Bangladesh. Around 11,000 foreigners submit tax returns to tax zone-11 of the NBR, which do not match with the money they remit from Bangladesh, said the NBR. For example, the official said remittances worth around $4 billion are sent to India from Bangladesh every year, the NBR official said.
Azad said the names of foreign workers, passport numbers, addresses of their workplaces, permanent addresses of living, nature of jobs, information about salaries-allowances and payment of income tax will be included in the database.
According to the decision of the taskforce, income tax booth has already been opened in three international airports-Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport, Shah Amanat Airport in Chittagong and MAG Osmani International airport in Sylhet and a land port-Banapole.
Foreigners must show their income tax clearance certificate at these booths prior to leaving Bangladesh, Azad said.
There is allegation that some foreign nationals enter Bangladesh with tourist visa and join jobs afterward. On other hand, foreigners are coming to Bangladesh with work-permit and working in NGOs, hotels-restaurants, educational institutes, garments factories, medical and engineering firms but secrecy is being maintained about their salaries-allowance, sad the NBR.
"Actually, the employers are doing so to dodge tax . . . the NBR will go tough against such employers," said Azad.