Hunt for tax-evaders

Tasneem Khalil

Tasneem Khalil

[Dhaka Correspondent] NBR (National Board of Revenue) will hunt the bigwigs with untaxed money who avoided the offer to legalize their hidden assets by September 30. “We will try to identify those who refrained from whitening their huge untaxed money,” NBR chairman Badiur Rahman told newsmen Monday, a day after the latest scheme to legalize undisclosed incomes expired. The next drive for netting large-scale tax-evaders will not harm the economy in any way, he noted.

A total of Taka 5213.30 crore was whitened until September 30 as 42,459 individuals and companies used the opportunity from June 5 till September 30. Of them, 16,532 rushed to the tax offices the last day. The offer generated a tax income of Taka 802.40 crore, mainly from middle income taxpayers.

“I expected around Taka 1500 crore in tax income from the scheme,” a frustrated revenue chief said, regretting that white-collar tax-evaders, who were catalysts for and key targets of the scheme, largely stayed out. It was middle and lower middle classes people, who crowded into the tax offices to legalize whatever they had to declare and legalize. “I saw people paying even Taka 2000 or Taka 3000 as taxes to legalize their incomes, while big shots did not show up,” Badiur Rahman said Sunday, the last day of the offer that remained open for about four months.

NBR launched the campaign on June 5 and kept it open until July 31 in the first phase. It was later extended for two months to September 30 to give individuals and businesses further chance to legalize their hidden incomes and investments just paying usual tax plus 5 per cent penalty. The scheme did not apply to incomes earned through unfair means and investments made in illegitimate businesses. Individuals and businesses facing tax evasion charges and legal actions were also barred from availing of the money whitening opportunity.