Bureaucratic hassles in tax collection by Dr.Gazi Sirazul Islam

BANGLADESH is a developing country in the third world, and as such, its policies must be very effective and friendly to citizens. We know that there are many sources of our law other than the law-making bodies, ie, the legislature. We know that the national assembly is the main legislative authority, which is known as primary law. After the constitution of Bangladesh, our parliament is the proper authority to make laws. It is well known that in a country, there are three wings that run the entire show: the executive, the judiciary, and the legislature.

Since independence, in Bangladesh, there has been no actual separation between the judiciary and the executive branch. Nonetheless, a few years ago, the caretaker government played a critical role in establishing the separation of the judiciary and the executive branch, which is regarded as a watershed moment.

It is well understood that the government of any country is dependent on the revenue generated by its citizens and/or natural resources. Besides, imports and exports of goods and/or materials are also major sources of government revenue. There are very few countries on the globe that do not depend on their natural resources and/or the revenue earned from their citizens. This includes internal and external sources. There are IRD (internal resource division) and ERD (external resource division), which are the two wings of our government’s revenue. Other than natural resources, imports and exports are also major factors that play vital roles in our economy. Income tax is a major source of revenue in our economy. This income tax is again principally divided into two types: direct tax and indirect tax.

The authorities on income tax are the chairman of the NBR and the inspector of taxes. There are few positions that are directly responsible for collecting income tax. There are various types of income tax zones, which are headed by a commissioner of taxes. For example, Taxes Zones (in general), the Central Survey Zone in Dhaka, which is spreading its wings all over Bangladesh, the Central Intelligence Cell, the Director General of Inspection, Large Tax Payers Unit and finally the director general of the BCS Taxes Academy.

On the other hand, there are a total of two tiers known as the Income Tax First Appeal and the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal. These two forums were established to settle disputes when any taxpayer (which may be individuals, proprietorship firms, partnership firms, limited companies, multinational companies, non-governmental organisations, foreign companies, joint venture companies, publicly traded companies, publicly non-traded companies and any other entities) raises one.

Literally and as per the existing laws of the land, the deputy commissioner of taxes and his/her subordinates are directly involved in collecting government revenues. The deputy commissioner of taxes is the proper and only authority to collect taxes, and he or she assesses the tax files of all categories of tax payers. In this case, the inspector of taxes (field officer) plays a vital role in collecting taxes, including those that are outstanding, which may be for the current year, the immediate past year, and/or previous ones.

However, in our country, there are currently two ways of submitting income tax returns: (i) by way of the universal self-assessment and (ii) by way of normal assessment. The deputy commissioner of taxes is the proper and only lawful authority to assess the submitted income tax returns (however they are submitted). Accordingly, as per the Income Tax Ordinance, 1984, the deputy commissioner of taxes is liable to complete the entire assessment as per the guidelines given in the Income Tax Ordinance.

On the other hand, the commissioners of taxes, of a tax zone impose different types of barriers and/or restrictions on their subordinate officers, eg, the deputy commissioners of taxes, the inspecting joint commissioners of taxes, and the inspecting additional commissioners of taxes. They do this by passing an office order, which is known as an executive order. Their orders are generally regarding fixing the power of assessment of a tax file by the deputy commissioners of taxes and their supervising officers and/or range officers. In view of this, it is to be stated here that the commissioners fix the assessed income of their subordinates, including the inspecting joint commissioners of taxes as well as the inspecting additional commissioners of taxes.

They generally mention the power — a certain amount of assessed income for each assessee — and also fix the power of all supervising officers up to a certain limit of assessed income. Income tax commissioners generally do it, so that a high volume of tax files are to be approved by the zone commissioners as they deem fit and proper. Once any office orders issued by the zone commissioners are passed to the subordinate officers, the subordinate officers become liable to carry out the orders and they do not have any other options.

In light of the foregoing, after assessment by the deputy commissioners of taxes, he or she submitted their draught assessment to their concerned supervising officer, the inspecting joint commissioners of taxes or the inspecting additional commissioners of taxes, and the supervising officers, in accordance with the executive order, for approval by the zone commissioners. On the other hand, if there is no such approval system, the deputy commissioners of taxes may do or undo anything that may go against the government’s revenue and/or the assesse may be victimised by unfair judgement due to the deputy commissioners’ unlimited power.

In fact, such practices are not permitted by the Income Tax Ordinance. They just do it since they have their executive powers. On the other hand, these practises waste valuable time and energy, and they cause the entire process to be delayed, causing tax payers and/or their nominated persons to experience unnecessary hassles. This approval method initiated by the commissioners of taxes is never friendly to the taxpayers. The approval systems, therefore, should be modified to facilitate and protect the interests of the assessee and tax payers.

The Main Source of this Article: https://www.newagebd.net/article/190464/bureaucratic-hassles-in-tax-collection

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