Friday, 29 September, 2023

HC orders Dr Yunus to pay Tk 12cr tax

Dismisses three petitions

HC orders Dr Yunus to pay Tk 12cr tax

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The High Court has ordered Nobel laureate Dr Muhammad Yunus to pay over Tk 12 crore in tax to the National Board of Revenue (NRB) on donations he had made to his three trusts.

An HC bench comprised of Justice Muhammad Khurshid Alam Sarkar and Justice Sardar Md Rashed Jahangir passed the order on Wednesday, dismissing three reference petitions filed by Dr Yunus challenging the order of the Taxes Appellate Tribunal asking him to pay over Tk 12cr in tax on his gifts to the three trusts.

Following the judgment, Dr Yunus must pay over Tk 12 crore tax on his gifts to Prof Dr Muhammad Yunus Trust, Yunus Family Trust and Yunus Centre.

The HC declared the imposition of tax by the NBR on the donations of Dr Yunus to three trusts as valid.

According to the case, Dr Yunus donated Tk 77.38 crore to the three trusts during a period from 2011 to 2014.

The NBR demanded Tk 16.41 crore in tax of which Dr Yunus paid Tk 3.62 crore.

While rejecting the three petitions, the HC observed that Dr Yunus donated the money to his own trusts as a ploy to evade tax.

The HC further said the Taxes Appellate Tribunal justly upheld the decision of the Deputy Commissioner of Taxes and NBR in respect of the tax on the gifted money.

Barrister Mustafizur Rahman Khan, Sumaiya Ifrit Binte Ahmed and Sumon Sengupta stood for Dr Yunus while Attorney

General AM Amin Uddin and Deputy Attorney General Farzana Rahman Sampa represented the state.

Talking to journalists, the attorney general said, “Had Dr Yunus not gifted the money, he would have been subjected to the income tax. He claimed to have donated the money for fear of death and welfare of the family members, but he failed to substantiate such claim. He abused the gift law in a bid to evade tax.”

Replying to a query, the top state law officer said if Dr Yunus does not pay the tax within the stipulated time, he will face fine too.

Dr Yunus first filed appeals with the Deputy Commissioner of Taxes against the imposition of tax by the NBR. The commissioner found that Yunus’ donations to the trusts fall within the purview of tax as per the Gift Tax Act, 1990.

Losing the legal battle, he moved the Taxes Appellate Tribunal which rejected his appeals too. Before filing the appeals, he deposited over Tk 3 crore to the state coffer.

In 2014, Dr Yunus filed three reference petitions with the HC challenging the Tax Appellate Tribunal’s verdict.

The HC, on April 2, 2015, withheld the effectiveness of the government notices issued for realising the demanded tax.

It had also issued a rule asking the authorities concerned to explain as to why the imposition of tax on gift should not be declared illegal.

On May 23 last, the HC closed the arguments on the petitions and fixed the matter as curia advisari vult (CAV).