At least 1,400 business entities under the Chattala Division of the Chattogram Customs, Excise and VAT Commissionerate are going to face suspension of their VAT registration because of not filing returns despite receiving repeated notices from the authorities.
"The business owners have not filed VAT returns even after receiving three text messages, e-mail letters, and written notices every month. We are now investigating whether these institutions exist at all," said Deputy Commissioner Saeed Ahmed Rubel, a divisional officer at the Chattala division.
The VAT registration or BIN (Business Identification Number) of the companies that do not file their returns within the next one month will be locked or suspended temporarily, he also said, pointing out that if VAT returns are submitted, there will be a scope to reopen their BIN numbers.
The number of VAT-registered businesses under the Chattala division is 5,600. As of July, 75% of them filed VAT returns but about 1,400 companies did not.
Till August 2021, the number of VAT registered businesses in the eight VAT commissionerate divisions was 31,649 and 75% of them filed VAT returns until July, according to the Chattogram VAT Commissionerate.
Businesspeople say many businesses shut down after having failed to absorb pandemic-induced losses. That is why they did not submit returns.
Besides, many shops refrained from filing returns as they changed ownership because of continuous losses. So, they were fined Tk10,000 per month, they add.
A VAT return has to be filed every month. If a business does not submit the return of a previous month by the 15th of the current month, they are fined Tk10,000 per month. Online VAT returns have been made mandatory since the new VAT Act came into force in July 2019, according to the VAT Act.
Many businesses could not file their returns for July and August of the current financial year as their user accounts were locked or suspended.
Sajjadul Maula, proprietor of TBR Power Electric in the Pahartali area, told The Business Standard that his business enterprise has completely remained shut for the last one year owing to the pandemic.
"I filed returns for a few months, but I could not for the last two months," said the businessman, demanding a waiver on the fine, given the present circumstances.
The VAT division, however, says there is no scope for waiving the fine for not filing VAT returns.
The authorities have identified the businesses who did not file VAT returns in Halishahar, Pahartali, Panchlaish, and Faujdarhat VAT circles of the port city.
Business establishments in Chattogram, Cox's Bazar, Bandarban, Rangamati, and Khagrachhari are within the jurisdiction of the Chattogram Customs, Excise and VAT Commissionerate. These five districts have been divided into eight divisions and Chattala is one of them.