The revenue authorities’ claim of around Tk 60 billion in VAT arrears from the five mobile phone operators has remained unsettled for long and the matter now awaits court settlement as the telecom companies have moved the court over the matter.
According to the National Board of Revenue, the mobile operators evaded Tk 59.4 billion (5941.65 crore) in VAT, a claim that the telecommunications companies deny.When asked, a high-up of the Association of Mobile Telecom Operators of Bangladesh (AMTOB) termed the issue very old in his email reply.
Seeking anonymity, he said there is no legal basis of many of “these claims”.
“And that is why we have moved the court against the NBR claim,” he said.
The official said the operators are confident that they will get justice against what the association described as an unsubstantiated claim by the revenue authority.
AMTOB has sought the government intervention in the matter to help resolve it to maintain a healthy business atmosphere.
According to the NBR tax update report, five mobile operators — Grameenphone, Banglalink, Robi, Airtel and Teletalk — have dodged Tk 5941.65 crore in value-added tax (VAT) on rental payments for commercial space and establishments, SIM replacement, VAT and SD on the issuance of new SIMs, and unlawfully received VAT rebate between 2006 and December 2018.Of the total amount, Grameenphone reportedly owes the tax administrator Tk2104.85 crore while Banglalink Tk1099.76 crore, Robi Tk2168.72 crore, Airtel Tk379.93 crore and Teletalk Tk188.39crore.
The mobile operators, however, claimed that they did not evade any VAT, but admitted that there have risen some disputes among the operators and the NBR over VAT on some issues.
As the matter is sub-judice, none can claim that the mobile operators have evaded tax until proven.
“We have challenged an illegal imposition of tax and this cannot be termed evasion of tax,” a mobile operator’s spokesperson said, asking not to be named.
“We filed cases, challenging the practice and arbitrary demand for VAT. This is a question of principle. We won’t make the payment till the court decides on our case.” But, according to NBR, the total dues of Grameenphone stand at Tk2104.85 crore from August 2006 to December 2018.
Of the total dues, GP owes Tk1402.18 crore for SIM replacement, Tk452.53 crore for the issuance of new SIM, Tk43.64 crore for rental payments for commercial space and establishments and Tk124.14 crore for receiving VAT rebate unlawfully.
According to the update data, Banglalink total dues stand at Tk1099.76 crore from August 2006 to December 2018.
Of the total dues, Banglalink owes Tk701.38-crore VAT for SIM replacement, Tk42.4 crore for rental payments for commercial space and establishments, Tk228 crore as penalty for nonpayment of VAT and SD in time from August 2006 to March 2007, Tk49.04 core for mismatch of their data stored in computer and those submitted as regards SIM and scratch card sales and Tk78.98 crore for unlawfully receiving VAT rebate.
The NBR data showed that Robi Axiata’s total dues stood at Tk2168.72 crore in the same period between August 2006 and March 2007.
Of the total amount, Robi VAT dues come around Tk699.75 crore on SIM replacement, Tk22.89 crore on rental payments for commercial space and establishments, Tk266 crore as penalty for nonpayment of VAT and SD in time from August 2006 to march 2007, Tk436.61 core on unlawfully receiving VAT rebate, Tk91.05 crore on merger fee and spectrum charge between Robi and Airtel, Tk5.52 crore on interconnection charge and Tk18.93 crore on BTRC License Acquisition Fee and Tech-Neutrality 4G/LTE Cellular Mobile.
The Airtel total dues to government are Tk 379.93 crore in the same period.
Of the total amount, Airtel dues are Tk129.04 crore for SIM replacement, Tk16.54 Crore on rental payments for commercial space and establishments, Tk117.05 crore for nonpayment of agreement between Ericson and Airtel, Tk31.54 crore for nonpayment of agreement between Motorola and Airtel and Tk85.76 core for mismatch of data stored in computer and those submitted regarding SIM and scratch card seals.
The state-owned mobile phone operator Teletalk has a total due of Tk188.39 crore to the government.
Of the total amount, Teletalk dues stand at Tk84 crore in VAT as 3G Licence Acquisition Fee, Tk85.13 core due to data the mismatch regarding SIM and scratch card seals and Tk4.10 crore as penalty for late payment of VAT during July 2007 to June 2009 and Tk15.16 core for unlawfully receiving VAT rebate.