The president of the Liberian Institute of Tax Practitioners, (LTIP) Theophilus Dekonty Joseph, has warned the Ministry of Finance against imposing unrealistic taxes on Liberian taxpayers.
Speaking at the induction ceremony of officers elect of the LTIP over the weekend, Mr. Joseph noted that while his organization encourages legal tax payment in order to develop this nation; however, unrealistic taxation poses a serious threat to the transformation of Liberia.
He urged the Ministry of Finance to at all times provide taxpayers with workable means of qualifying the taxpayers’ transaction.
LTIP was organized to regulate activities of tax practitioners, ensure that the services rendered by these practitioners are of the best quality with regards to the ethics of the profession and moral duties.
“Section 15 of the Revenue Code of Liberia, gives the Minister of Finance discretionary power in determining liability tax under the Tax Code. The minister may at his discretion, re-characterize an arrangement or part of an arrangement which he believes has been entered into or carried out by a tax payer, as part of a tax avoidance scheme. The minister, based on his discretion, may disregard or re-characterize any arrangement that he believes does not reflect substantial economic effect.
“The discretionary power is the statutory right of the Minister’s, in order to serve as a check on the abuse of tax laws by taxpayers and tax practitioners. However, we urged the Finance Minister to exercise statutory duty, to do so with an open-mind and deal with issues on a case-by-case basis, in order to avoid unnecessary stifling of business strategy initiatives that may help taxpayers save on taxes and help our country,” Mr. Joseph declared.
There’s nothing sinister in arranging one’s business affairs in such a way as to keep taxes low, Mr. Joseph continued; “everybody does so – the rich, the poor, and the ‘do right.’ But nobody owes any public duty to pay more that the law demands.”
The new tax practitioners’ president added that the Finance Ministry should under no circumstance impose levies and disciplinary actions that have not been provided for in the Tax Code-specifically; no one should be required to pay taxes that are not provided for in the Revenue Code of Liberia.
Delivering the key note address, Finance Minister Amara Konneh described the new leadership of tax practitioners as “critical but important to the developmental drive of Liberia.”
Minister Konneh was quick to acknowledge that a majority of the Liberian people are yet to build confidence in their public officials or national government but stressed that tax practitioners are placed in a better position to bridge the gap between government and the public through their performance.
He referred to LTIP as “nation builders” as their service are highly needed as the government strives to lift Liberia’s economy—a process Minister Konneh feels can only be possible when those within the country pay taxes regularly.
LTIP was established by Liberian professionals working on tax issues through the instrumentality of the Ministry of Finance.
The mission of the organization is to create equity in Liberian taxation through the provision of quality professional tax education.