Their TINs were unknowingly abused. Now they can’t erase their name.

Tania Jasmine, owner of a modest beauty salon in the Rangunia upazila of Chattogram, and her husband own only one car. But the National Board of Revenue’s database shows it has 103 stunning vehicles – an alarming record for anyone.

And it came to his knowledge when tax officials came knocking to inquire about his source of wealth, which they learned after the NBR and the Bangladesh Road Transport Authority synchronized their servers in June. last year as part of the government’s efforts to close the walls on tax evaders.

It was then that she discovered that she had been the victim of identity theft: her tax identification number (TIN) had been used to register a set of vehicles with the Bangladesh Road Transport Authority.

“I was shocked – it’s just nonsense,” she recently told the Daily Star.

Like Jasmine’s, Prabir Biswas’ TIN ended up in the hands of a gang, who used it to register eight vehicles.

Since 2015, the government has made the TIN mandatory for vehicle registration and certificates of fitness.

But as tax evaders are wont to do, they’ve found a workaround: a cottage industry has sprung up to provide legitimate vehicle registration with fake TINs, so their wealth remains hidden from view. government collectors.

Such intermediaries can be found outside the BRTA offices, offering to provide certificates of registration and fitness without having to wait in the long queue in exchange for a fee of around Tk 10,000 .

“Basically, we insert the name of the person registering the car on a valid TIN certificate. We are reducing people’s suffering – otherwise they would face harassment at the hands of the BRTA and the tax authorities,” said one of these intermediaries. Daily Star asks not to be named for fear of reprisals.

In four tax zones in Chattogram, at least 565 vehicles have been registered with the TINs of just six people, according to the tax authorities of the zones. They haven’t finished cross-checking the BRTA and NBR databases yet, but the real number will certainly be “huge”.

Two of the six people whose TINs have been widely abused are Jasmine and Biswas.

The Daily Star managed to trace the owners of 13 of the vehicles registered with Jasmine’s TIN. Most said they had used the service of intermediaries for lack of TIN.

Currently, 62.93 lakh have a TIN on a potential crore network.

Asked how intermediaries got away with such fraud in vehicle registration, Touhidul Islam, deputy director of BRTA’s Chattogram office, said: “We don’t know how others used the certificate. TIN of a person. The NBR will be able to tell better as it is a question of falsification of TIN.”

According to Muhammad Aminur Rahman, First Secretary (Tax Rules) of the NBR, the days of getting away with using fake TINs for vehicle registration and certificates of fitness are over.

Fake TIN users will now be easily detected due to the interconnection of NBR and BRTA servers.

After being arrested for fraud, fake TIN users are being fined according to law, Rahman told the Daily Star yesterday.

But for those whose TINs have been abused, a different penalty awaits through no fault of their own: from that exercise, possession of more than one car, sport utility vehicle (SUV) or van means you have to pay 50% more income tax. for each of the vehicles.

For Biswas, a returning migrant worker who makes do by renting the auto-rickshaw he bought with the savings he paid before packing his bags in the Middle East, it’s beyond his mental faculties.

He has four auto-rickshaws, a microbus, a car and a van registered with his NIF.

“We only have one car and I mentioned it in our income tax file,” said Elias Hossain, Jasmine’s husband.

Hossain filed a written complaint with the Chittagong Tax Zone-1, where they file their tax returns, and the BRTA regarding the change in Jasmine’s record.

It has 70 auto rickshaws, eight cars, eight covered vans, five trucks, four SUVs, four microbuses, one bus, one prime mover and one human transporter.

“I went to the BRTA office six times with my wife but they couldn’t solve our problem,” a frustrated Hossain said.

As a result, the couple failed to submit their tax returns on time, which means further woes await them.

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