Business leaders said in a pre-budget parley with the National Board of Revenue (NBR) Wednesday requested the tax authorities not to overburden the available taxpayers, rather to expand its revenue outreach.
"Over squeezing the lemon may turn the juice bitter," said Nihad Kabir, former president of the Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI), while the Foreign Investor's Chamber of Commerce & Industry (Ficci) urged the revenue authorities not to "over milk the cow".
"We have no option but to milk available cows until we buy another one. I understand this causes overburden to some people," said NBR Chairman Abu Hena Md Rahmatul Muneem referring to Ficci Vice-President Neil Coupland.
Ficci President Naser Ezaz Bijoy said the non-compliant taxpayers cause pressure on the compliant ones. Referring to a point of the current tax law, he attributed it to a tendency of hiding the actual taxable values by taxpayers.
The Ficci president suggested NBR adopting a long-term roadmap to retain the confidence of investors and businessmen.
The NBR chief agreed that 30% corporate tax is disturbing to compliant taxpayers. "Due to this annoyance, many try to cash in on tax net flaws. We need to provide the compliant taxpayers with revenue relief to ensure compliance."
The MCCI sought the revenue authorities to reduce the corporate taxes in line with regional competitors.
MCCI President Md Saiful Islam said though the corporate taxes have been slashed 5% in the last two years, the rates are still high compared to Bangladesh's neighbours such as India and competitor Vietnam.
Referring to the tax rates in India, former MCCI president Nihad Kabir said Bangladesh should also readjust the rates to a major extent in upcoming years.
In a separate noted, MCCI President Saiful Islam said 5% corporate tax cut in recent years is not bringing much advantages to the businessmen in the end since the revenue authorities raised other tariff rates elsewhere such as tax deduction at source (TDS) and disallowance of expenditure.
He said though the corporate tax is 33.5% for the public limited companies, they often have to pay 40%-50% cumulated taxes in the end.
NBR Chairman Rahmatul Muneem observed that there are valid reasons to argue for corporate tax cuts. He, however, advocated for risk assessment prior to further reduction.
The NBR chief said the revenue authorities will continue policy support to import substitute industries in future.
"Attempts to blame the NBR are painful even after incessant tax exemptions," he commented.