The National Board of Revenue yesterday withdrew tax privileges for fish farming to rein in tax-dodging by a section of dishonest taxpayers who allegedly shift income from other sources to fisheries to evade tax.
The existing tax rate of 3 percent on income from fish cultivation will no longer be effective, the NBR said in a notice. Income from the sector will be subject to normal tax rates, it said.
“It means the tax rate for companies involved in fish farming will be 35 percent. And individuals having income from fish cultivation will pay tax at normal rates depending on their income levels,” an NBR official said, asking not to be named, reports the Daily Star.
The NBR move comes after it found that a section of corrupt people, including some politicians, businesses and government officials, took advantage of the tax benefit in fish cultivation and claimed to have incomes from such business.
In July last year, the NBR offered the reduced tax rate for fish farming and some other areas to encourage diversification and increase the supply of protein.
The privilege was given for two years beginning from July 1, 2013 to June 30, 2015. Prior to the reduced rate, 5 percent tax was applicable to income from fish cultivation.
Taxmen said it is difficult to assess fish stocks in ponds and one can claim any amount of income from such farming.
The advantage was taken by some people to dodge taxes and legalise illegal earnings. “We have found that the opportunity was misused,” the NBR official said.
Taxmen said some people having fish farms show excessive amounts of income from farming by diverting incomes from other taxable sources.
Another group of people do not have fish farms but they claim to have incomes from such business. “But our field officials do not find any ponds during inspection, and these people claim the farms are either closed or the ponds have dried up,” he said.
“As a result, we were losing a huge amount to revenue.” Farming of fish, including shrimp, expanded during the past three decades, particularly in the north-eastern, north and south-western regions.
Production of fish from cultivation more doubled to 18.59 lakh tonnes in fiscal 2012-13 from 8.56 lakh tonnes a decade ago, according to the Department of Fisheries.
Cultivated fish accounts for more than half of the supply of 34.10 lakh tonnes a year.