The head of the Liberian Institute of Tax Practitioners has assured the public that the Institute will take tax education to taxpayers across the country. Mr. Arthur Fumbah said the key benefit of the Institute’s tax education program is to ensure a more efficient tax system for all taxpayers, advisers and the tax authorities. “We will not be making laws, but educating the public about existing government tax laws and policies enacted by the legislature,” he stated.
In an exclusive interview with our business desk Tuesday, January 7, Fumbah noted that the Liberian Institute of Tax Practitioners will professionalize the practice of taxation by common standards including the establishment and implementation of best practice ethical standards.
He also noted that the Tax Institute will enhance transparency and accountability in the practice of taxation and contribute to the enhancement of voluntary compliance by taxpayers.
“The Tax Institute will contribute to the improvement of government’s tax revenue collection and would provide employment possibilities by qualifying more individuals,” he said. Many taxpayers commit tax crime in Liberia by evading or avoiding government taxes.
But the Tax Institute boss assured the government and the private sector that it has the capacity to train more tax experts that would help change things around for the better. The Institute hopes to be the sole professional body to train and certify tax professionals as well as regulate the activities of tax practitioners in Liberia.
A former Deputy Finance Minister for Expenditure & Debt Management of Liberia, Fumbah is currently the senior manager of Baker Tilly Liberia. He confirmed in this interview that tax compliance has been a problem in the country.
He, however, attributed this challenge of availability of less information to most taxpayers about the country’s tax laws and policies.
The Liberian Institute of Tax Practitioners was founded by the government in 2009 when Mr. Fumbah was serving as Deputy Minister of Finance. In 2013, the Institute was allowed to go independent with the government, represented by the Ministry of Finance, on its steering committee.
Members of the Institute’s five-member Steering Committee are: Liberia Institute of Certified Public Accountants (LICPA), the Liberia Chamber of Commerce (LCC), the National Bar Association (NBA), the Liberian Business Association (LIBA) and the Ministry of Finance.
Fumbah praised the government for being supportive of the Institute’s independence, though it is not benefitting from public resources. “They had it under the Ministry of Finance, but they have let it go independent and this is laudable. They are represented on the Steering Committee and are working heartedly with us to ensure that we are successful.”
The Tax Institute is quite different from the newly legislated Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) in that it does not enforce or collect government’s tax revenue.
As a standalone organization, the Institute is now responsible to finance itself. But, Mr. Fumba praised the government for allowing the Tax Institute to go independent. He emphasized that the Institute will perform as a think-tank for tax education noting “this is in the interest of all parties—the taxpayers and the government.”
He clarified that the Liberian Institute of Tax Practitioners will not interfere with the functions of the government’s Board of Tax Appeals (BoTA) and the newly enacted Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA), which have the responsibilities to hear tax appeal cases (BoTA) and enforce the tax laws of Liberia and collect government’s revenue (LRA).
“We will be there to recruit and conduct training for tax experts who will then go into various communities and businesses to educate existing and potential taxpayers about government’s tax policies and in return, encourage those taxpayers to go and pay government taxes. And this is the technicality relating to government tax laws that we will be filling,” he said.