The National Board of Revenue (NBR) introduced tax cards more than a decade ago and expanded its associated list from fiscal 2015-16 to recognize compliant taxpayers in various sectors and professions.
An analysis shows that 15 individuals and 19 conglomerates have been winning recognition as top taxpayers of the country for the past straight six years.
The individuals are Md Kaus Mia, a businessman; Golam Dastagir Gazi, another businessman; Mahfuz Anam, editor and publisher of The Daily Star; Matiur Rahman, editor of the Prothom Alo; Mohammad Abdul Malek, editor of the Dainik Azadi; Sheikh Fazle Noor Taposh, a lawyer; and Pran Gopal Dutta, a physician.
The individuals also include Drug International’s Khwaja Tajmahal, MA Haider Hussain, Mohammad Yusuf, Hosne Ara Hossain, Rubaiyat Farzana Hossain, Laila Hossain, Palmal Group of Industries Managing Director Nafis Sikder, and national cricketer Tamim Iqbal Khan.
Yesterday, they were among the 75 individuals who were honored by the NBR for the payment of the highest amount of taxes for 2020-21. The tax administration also recognized 54 companies.
Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal inaugurated the award presentation event organized at the Officers’ Club Dhaka.
Among the 19 companies are Islami Bank Bangladesh, Standard Chartered Bank, HSBC, Grameenphone, Nestlé Bangladesh, Titas Gas Transmission and Distribution Company, Unilever Bangladesh, British American Tobacco Bangladesh, Coats Bangladesh, American Life Insurance Company, Square Pharmaceuticals, and Apex Footwear.
The remaining ones are Mediastar Ltd, Transcraft Ltd, Badsha Textiles Mills, Noman Terry Towel Mills, Rifat Garments, SN Corporation, and ASBS.
Mediaworld Ltd, Infrastructure Development Company Ltd, Bay Developments Ltd, Bata Shoe Company (Bangladesh) Ltd, and Lalmai Footwear won recognition for the fifth consecutive year.
“We are delighted to be able to play our part in supporting the incredible growth journey of our nation,” said Naser Ezaz Bijoy, chief executive officer of Standard Chartered Bangladesh, after receiving the tax card.
“As one of the longest-serving financial institutions of Bangladesh and the largest international bank in the country, it has always been our mission to serve as a partner in progress to our nation.”
“We are grateful and would like to express our humble recognition of the vital role the institution is playing in Bangladesh’s sustainable development through driving domestic resource mobilization, by embracing technology and progressive policy formulation.”
AK Azad, managing director of Rifat Garments, says he is feeling encouraged.
“Our exports are rising continuously, so we are honored to get the recognition for our contribution to the country.”
“I pay tax as I make a profit,” Kaus Mia, owner of Hakimpuri Jarda, told recently.
“I pay tax because it is a good thing to do. How will the state bear its expenses if we don’t pay tax?”
“We remain committed to continuing our contribution towards the economic development of the country alongside providing world-class financial protection to the people,” Ala Ahmad, chief executive officer of MetLife Bangladesh, told.
“Insurance is vital for sustained economic growth, and we are honoured to represent the insurance sector as one of the major contributing sectors for Bangladesh’s ongoing prosperous journey.”
The government’s recognition is a true testament to Unilever’s continuous contribution to the internal revenue of Bangladesh, said Zaved Akhtar, chief executive officer and managing director of Unilever Bangladesh.
“We will continue our partnership with the government and larger ecosystem and fuel the growth momentum and progress toward our vision of a developed country by 2041.”
“We are on a mission to bring real change, improve people’s lives and protect nature,” he added.
Syed Md Aminul Karim, a former member of income tax policy at the NBR, said companies continuing to top the list of the largest taxpayers indicated that they had good corporate practices.
And it appears that they play a responsible role in society, he said.
But a large number of firms with a good amount of income continue to remain outside the scanner of the tax authority for its lack of capacity to dig deeper to assess actual incomes.
“The same is also true for many individuals who earn a lot but show little in their tax returns,” said Karim, now an adjunct faculty of the banking and insurance department of the University of Dhaka.
Recalling his experiences, he mentioned a taxpayer who showed Tk 3 lakh as annual income but was later found to be paying Tk 10 lakh in tuition fees for his children at an international school in Dhaka.
“We are yet to tax the incomes from land and flat sales properly,” he said, suggesting tax officials track the expenditure of individuals to assess actual incomes.
Md Kamrul Hassan, the chief financial officer of Transcom Ltd, received the tax card, crest, and a certificate of honor from NBR Chairman Abu Hena Md Rahmatul Muneem on behalf of Transcraft.
He also received the same on behalf of the late Latifur Rahman and his wife Shahnaz Rahman, the current chairman of Transcom Group.
Matiur Rahman received a tax card, crest, and certificate of honor. He also received the same on behalf of Media star.
Uzma Chowdhury, director (finance) at Pran-RFL Group, accepted the award on behalf of Pran Dairy.
Shaykh Seraj, a director and head of news of Channel i, received the recognition on behalf of Faridur Reza Sagar, the company’s managing director.
In the print and electronic media category, Somoy Media and East West Media Group were named as the highest taxpayers.
The finance minister said Bangladesh was doing well in all economic indicators, including revenue earnings.
He requested people to participate more and more in paying taxes to build a Golden Bengal.
Md Jashim Uddin, president of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry, urged the authorities to ensure that tax card-holders were provided privileges as mentioned in the tax card policy.
“We appeal for considering the issue of withdrawal of advance income tax to facilitate business,” he said.
Jashim stressed ensuring transparency and accountability and suggested identifying new and well-off people to increase tax receipts.
“Discretionary powers of taxmen also need to be reduced to bring new taxpayers under the tax net.”
NBR Chairman Rahmatul Muneem said it would be possible to cut tax rates if an increased number of taxpayers came under the tax net.
“We are working on digitalization and simplification of rules so that taxpayers can pay tax with ease.”