Confusion and frustration reign as taxpayers grapple with a new income tax law that has caught them unprepared.
The online tax portal isn’t operational, and offline services are also unavailable. Meanwhile, the National Board of Revenue (NBR) is struggling to adapt to the changes in tax collection rules.
Individuals and businesses are left perplexed as their tax return deadlines approach. Unlike previous years, no deadline extensions will be granted.
Under the new income tax law, the NBR will not accept any expenditure claims, such as tax rebates or exemptions, for those who miss the submission deadlines.
Individual taxpayers must submit returns by November 30, 2023, while corporations have separate deadlines on June 30 and December 31.
The tax return submission period for individuals began on July 1, 2023.
However, taxpayers seeking to file returns online or seek assistance from the Tax Service Centre have found both operations suspended.
The NBR activates the online tax return portal in the last month of the submission deadline for individuals. However, there is no online submission facility for corporate taxpayers.
Tax experts are recommending a return to the previous Income Tax Ordinance-1984 provision, allowing taxpayers to request extensions with a nominal penalty.
Tax experts argue for a grace period for taxpayers, especially individuals, to adapt to the new provisions. They suggest that the previous provision allowing time extensions should be reinstated.
While recognizing the NBR’s efforts to enforce deadlines, experts caution that dealing with a sudden influx of tax returns, given limited resources, will be challenging.
The new income tax law lacks any provision for time extensions, making it imperative for taxpayers to submit returns on time to avoid increased tax liabilities.
Last year’s partial launch of online tax return forms lacked interconnectivity, rendering it unusable for most taxpayers. Only 244,481 out of 3.6 million taxpayers submitted returns online.
Despite the government’s vision for a Smart Bangladesh by 2041, direct taxpayers continue to lack essential online services, except for obtaining a Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN).