Fake tax receipts issued to usurp money from tax-payers

Dhaka North City Corporation logo

Maruf Hossain, a resident of the Matikata area in the capital’s Mirpur, filed a written complaint to the chief revenue officer of Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) on 6 August, complaining he was given a fake receipt after paying his holding tax.

In the complaint, Maruf wrote that on 22 January he paid Tk 42,007 as holding tax for the 2022-23 fiscal year at an agent banking branch of a private bank in DNCC Zone 2. Later on 11 July, while filing his taxes for the running financial year, he got to know that his holding tax for the year is still due.

When he contacted officers at the DNCC zonal office in Mirpur, they informed him that the receipt he was given was fake. Later, he logged into the citizen’s portal of the DNCC, where he found out that all data of transaction have also been removed.

Maruf told Prothom Alo on Sunday evening, “They (the city corporation officials) have asked for a week’s time. Let’s see what solution they give.”

Not just Maruf, till now seven victims have filed written complaints to the DNCC about getting fake receipts. Among them, Prothom Alo has obtained copies of three of these complaints.

In the complaint, it was written that the victims were given fake receipts after paying their holding tax. After the payment, they were shown the transaction on the citizen’s portal. But now the information has been removed. The portal is saying that the holding tax was unpaid.

Officials at the North City Corporation said, some officials of the organisation appointed to run the ‘Revenue Automation System’ and bank officials have formed a ring which is giving fake receipts to tax payers. This ring is usurping huge sums of taxes through this fraud.

Chief executive officer of the DNCC Selim Reza told Prothom Alo on Monday, if anyone has taken part in fraudulent activities, they will be brought to book. DNCC will follow a ‘zero tolerance’ policy in this regard.

Even though the administration is talking about taking a hard stance, they have recently transferred DNCC chief revenue officer ANM Tariqul Islam, who was very vocal against fraudulent activities.

What the victims say

On 8 August, a meeting was held at the DNCC Nagar Bhaban about the complaints made by the victims of fraud. In the meeting, Khadija Khatun, one of the affected, said that on 22 March she paid Tk 31,200 in holding taxes. Later 28 May, when she tried to pay her taxes for the 2022-23 financial year, a representative of the organisation operating the ‘Revenue Automation System’ asked her to show the receipt of the holding tax. When she showed him the receipt, he said that the money had not been deposited.

Khadija told Prothom Alo, “They (DNCC officials) told us not to discuss this matter elsewhere. They will solve the problem.”

Another victim Shafiqur Rahman said in the meeting that on 1 March he paid Tk 112,576.73 as holding tax for the 2022-23 fiscal year. When he tried to pay his income tax on 13 July, he found out that the information of his payment of holding tax was not updated in the server. The portal showed that the sum was still due.

Similarly, Shangkar Dayal Bishash, a business owner, said that on 4 September he went to renew his trade license. But there he was informed that there is payment due from the previous year.

Decision to file criminal case

Three decisions were taken in the meeting. As per the minutes of the meeting, the first decision was to find out who were involved in giving out fake receipts for holding tax and commit fraud on trade license and then take appropriate legal action against them. Criminal cases will be filed against the employees of the organisation responsible for the operation of the ‘Revenue Automation System’ who have removed information from the software.

The second decision was to remove the agent banking branches of all banks from every zonal offices of the DNCC. The third decision was to figure out if there are any issues with the revenue automation software.

What the officials say

In the meeting, DNCC chief engineer Brigadier General Muhammad Amirul Islam said, the issues in the ‘Revenue Automation System’ can easily be solved. DNCC secretary Masud Alam Siddique said, the ones involved in the fraud have to be brought to justice.

This correspondent got the access in the meeting for around 10 minutes during which some DNCC officers were seen quarrelling about the issue.

This is also apparent from the statement of DNCC chief revenue officer Tariqul in the proceedings of the meeting. He said, just because one talks about the new system (Revenue Automation System), doesn’t mean he is against the new system.

What the organisation and bank officials say

Syed Sohel Tanvir, a representative of the organization responsible for the operation of the new system, was present at the meeting. He was asked why information that had already been entered into the portal was deleted. He couldn't provide a satisfactory answer to this question. However, he mentioned that only programmers, assistant programmers, and supervisors have the capability to remove information from the portal.

Aslam Ferdous, a senior vice president of the private bank, whose receipt was used in the fraud, said as the receipt is not made manually, a number of organisations have to be involved in this ring. It’s impossible to issue receipts without technical support or information. They have already begun investigation to identify those who are involved.

DNCC Mayor Atiqul Islam told Prothom Alo that if fraud is uncovered, they will take all necessary legal actions.

*This report appeared in the print edition of Prothom Alo and has been rewritten for the English edition by Ashfaq-Ul-Alam Niloy