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Tax Return Goes Digital: Here Is Why That Is Important and How It Works

From November 1, 2016, the National Board of Revenue (NBR) is going to introduce an online tax return submission system (OTRSS) available throughout the country. This announcement was made at a pilot program by Md. Nojibur Rahman, current chairman of NBR at Tax Zone-4 in the capital.

Before the final launch on the first day of the income tax fair, there are plans for piloting the platform in different tax zones in Dhaka and Tangail.

The first pilot program which took place on Thursday last week was inaugurated by M A Hannan, State Minister for Finance.

This OTRSS has been developed by a Vietnam-based IT company–FPI Information Systems. It is done under the Income Tax Department's Strengthening Governance Management Project (SGMP) project with assistance from Asian Development Bank (ADB).

In his presentation couple days ago, SGMP director Kalipada Halder described the process in details. To file tax returns online, taxpayers will have to visit the OTRSS submission portal and subscribe to get a user ID and a unique password.

After logging in, when a taxpayer insert the 12-digit tax identification number (TIN) on the submission form, the system will automatically import her/his available information from the NBR database and fill up the form.
In order to make the process more smooth and convenient for the taxpayers, the online submission form also has the option to calculate the amount of actual payable tax.

Lastly, after the submission, "Taxpayers will get acknowledgment receipt and certificate online from the tax authority after online submission of tax returns," explained Mr. Halder.

Although the method of e-payment is yet to be determined, Nojibur Rahman informed that a team is working on it. Meanwhile, a scanned copy of challan can be attached to an online tax return.

Previously, there have been numerous reports on tax evasion, misuses of legal loopholes and different sorts of malpractices concerning tax payment. Also, because of its manual nature, the existing process takes a considerable amount of time of the taxpayers which works as a discouragement for many taxpayers.

By automating the entire tax return process, the OTRSS is expected to mitigate the problems in the current taxation system, help smoother the process, reduce the cumbersome paperwork, maintain transparency and build trust.

Rahatil Ashekan is an undergraduate student at the University of Dhaka studying Accounting and Information Systems. He works as a reporting intern at FS and writes about startup, travel, and e-commerce. You may reach him at [email protected].

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