Budget 2023-24: Agents won't get authority to collect tax

Private agents will be appointed to help taxpayers prepare their returns and submissions free of cost,

Budget 2023-24Prothom Alo illustration

The government will appoint ‘private agents’ to increase tax collection from the field level. However, these agents will not have the authority to actually collect taxes from the people. They will help them in preparing and submitting the tax returns.

The private agents to be appointed by the government under a certain regulation, cannot be legal representatives of the taxpayers too. The private agents will work under the supervision of area-wise private organisations to be appointed the National Board of Revenue (NBR).

An announcement to appoint such organisations and private agents may appear in the upcoming national budget. It has been learned that finance minister AHM Mustafa Kamal is likely to come up with the announcement in his budget speech to be presented in the Jatiya Sangsad (national parliament) on Thursday.

NBR would pay the agent a certain percentage of the tax a person would pay. The agent would get the money for helping preparing and submitting the tax returns for the first five years.

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NBR has completed the draft of the Income Tax Return Rule-2023, which has defined the people who would be eligible to get appointed as agents, their tasks and the process to be agents.

Qualification and appointment

It has been said the candidates must be Bangladeshi and have at least a graduate degree. But if the person is a government employee s/he will not get the certificate as an agent who can prepare the returns. The person must be a Tax Identification Number (TIN) holder, have to have computer and basic IT knowledge and evidence of submission of tax returns.

The interested candidates will have to have a certificate to prove their qualification by passing an exam at NBR. The NBR will prepare a curriculum before the exam.

But certain professionals can avail the certificate without appearing in the exam. They are certified accountants, tax lawyers, people who have knowledge in secretarial studies and lawyers registered with Bangladesh Bar Council.

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NBR will also appoint the private organisations to provide all kinds of assistance including computer lab facilities and training to the persons to be appointed as agents. One or more area-wise organisations would be appointed. The high ups of the office will have to have sufficient knowledge on income tax laws and tax systems.

NBR will pay the agents an incentive. They will get a certain percentage of the amount of tax a person would pay. As per the draft policy of the NBR, the agent in the first three years would get 10 per cent of minimum tax, 2 per cent of the next 15,000 taka, 1 per cent of next 50,000 taka and .5 per cent of the remaining amount of tax of a person.

Then in the 4th and 5th years, the agent would get 5 per cent of minimum tax, 1 per cent of the next 15,000 taka, 0.5 per cent of next 50,000 taka and 0.25 per cent of the remaining amount of tax of a person.

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The agent would not get any incentive from the sixth year of helping a tax payer in submitting the return for five years. But the appointing organisation of the agent could take 10 per cent of his incentive as fee.

No agent can apply to NBR directly for the incentive. He will inform the appointing organisation the number of persons he helped in preparing the return and the organisation will apply to the NBR. The tax officials will verify the documents and release the funds.

* The report was originally published in the print edition of Prothom Alo and has been rewritten in English by Shameem Reza