Although a statutory mandate it is for citizens to pay taxes, the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) has designed a motivating strategy that will drive citizens in Montserrado County to willingly comply with their tax obligation without discontent.
The strategy among other objectives seeks to share revenue between local authorities or communities and the government, represented by the LRA, and to provide short term job opportunities for community dwellers.
In the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between LRA and the Montserrado County local authorities, 80% of income from Real Estate Tax collection will go to the LRA while 20% goes to the townships, borough and cities wherein the taxes will be collected.
It (MOU) further notes that local authorities of townships, borough and cities shall recruit a total of 2,410 field workers, and 446 supervisors from 21 townships, one borough and seven cities to carry out the project.
The LRA will conduct training for the recruits through the Real Estate Tax Division in basic classification and collection of properties and property owner information for a period of 11 days.
The overall goal, according to Darlingston Y. Tarley, Commissioner for Domestic Tax Department, is to expand Real Estate Tax so that Government will get its fair share from real estate owners.
Speaking to over 15 local leaders at a local resort yesterday, Mr. Tarley said the program will be extended to the rest of the counties when LRA succeeds with the first phase in Montserrado.
The MOU indicates that local authorities of townships, boroughs and cities will provide the LRA with all necessary information, carry out awareness and collect data of all properties and property owners within their various geographical boundaries. The information will guide the LRA in pursuing property owners who are evading tax so that they will be able to comply with their tax obligation.
The entire exercise is to last for one year, with every necessary logistical support provided by the LRA.
The MOU also clarifies that all equipment provided local authorities of townships, borough and cities shall be returned to the LRA upon completion of the project and, failure to return them leave the LRA with the right to take whatever legal action necessary.
The LRA, according to the MOU, shall pay contractors US$100 each, or its equivalent in Liberian dollars, at the end of each month. However, any contractor found engaged in misconduct such as extortion of money from property owners, over counting or under-counting of properties and any form of corrupt acts, the LRA reserves the right to discontinue with that contractor.
Meanwhile, Montserrado County Superintendent Florence Brandy has lauded the strategy designed by the LRA to involve locals in the collection of Real Estate taxes.
At discussions leading to signing of the MOU, Superintendent Brandy said the strategy will help community dwellers to have jobs that will financially empower them and their families.
She warned that the amount meant for local authorities be placed in an extra account that Lawmakers will not have influence over as is the case with the county development funds.
She reiterated her call for having tax return benefits for Liberians, stressing that it will also motivate delinquent taxpayers to see pleasure in tax payment.
It may be recalled that in early 2015, Superintendent Brandy made the same call in Bentol, Montserrado County, where LRA officials had gone to have a consultative meeting with community dwellers for help to trace real estate property owners.