Economist Wahiduddin Mahmud's photo art
Economist Wahiduddin Mahmud's photo art

There are ample opportunities to whiten black money in the budget of current fiscal year 2020-21. The owners of the black money have made full use of these opportunities in the first six months of the fiscal year. From 1 July to 31 December, a total of 7,650 people have whitened their money, which is the highest in the last decade. All of these have made declarations in their annual income tax returns to whiten their black money. In total Tk 102.2 billion (Tk 10,200 crore) has been whitened.

The National Board of Revenue (NBR) confirmed this information. NBR officials said,this year black money has turned white in two ways. First, black money has been whitewashed by buying flats and land or paying specific taxes on the cash deposited in the bank. Second, many whitewash by investing in the stock market. The rule which have been drawn up prevent NBR from asking any questions about the sources of black money if it is made white. No authorities are allowed to ask questions regarding this.

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One has to pay specific tax while buying flats or plots depending on the location and the size of the property. There is also an opportunity to whiten black money by paying 10 per cent tax on cash, bank deposits and investments in savings certificates, shares, bonds or any other securities. Such opportunities are given in the section of 19AAAAA of the income tax ordinance. According to NBR, in the last six months 7,445 tax payers have taken this chance. But the tendency of whitening cash money is reported too. In total, the NBR received revenue of Tk 9.39 billion (939.76 crore).

On the other hand, this time there is an opportunity to whiten the stock market by investing black money. According to Section 19AAA of the Income Tax Ordinance, 10 per cent tax has to be paid on the amount invested in the stock market. In the last six months, 205 people have taken this opportunity by investing in the stock market. They have paid Tk 2.3 million (23 crore) in taxes.

I demand that the opportunity to whiten black money be stopped forever. Regardless of the logic shown behind this, to attract investment by giving such opportunities is not acceptable. It is unethical and discouraging to honest taxpayers
Iftekharuzzaman, executive director of Transparency International Bangladesh

The opportunity of whitening black money will prevail until 30 June. People who want to take this opportunity can declare this after paying the revised return or at the time of submitting the return the next year.

Executive director of Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) Iftekharuzzaman told Prothom Alo, “As always, I demand that the opportunity to whiten black money be stopped forever. Regardless of the logic shown behind this, to attract investment by giving such opportunities is not acceptable. It is unethical and discouraging to honest taxpayers.”

Almost every government of the country has given the opportunity of whitening black money. Such opportunity was given for the first in 1975. Till now, such opportunity has been given 17 times. But none of them was able to draw significant response. During the caretaker government in 2006 and 2007, a maximum of 32,558 individuals and organisations took the opportunity. Then this time in six months maximum 7,500 taxpayers took this opportunity.

24 lakh taxpayers gave returns

This year, 2.49 million people with tax identification number (TIN) have submitted their annual income tax returns, which is 9 percent more than last time. This year's return submission period ended on 31 December. At present there are 52 lakh 72 thousand TIN holders. This year, the income tax revenue target is Tk 1 lakh 5 thousand 465 crore. So far 34 thousand 236 crore has been collected in the first six months.

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