Over 165 taxpayers in Grand Gedeh and Lofa counties have completed workshops in Zwedru and Foya cities, organized by the Board of Tax Appeals. The workshops were designed to discuss “Liberia’s Decentralization Program and its Impact on Taxation.”
The Zwedru workshop was held at the Zwedru Multilateral High School auditorium on March 22, 2017 and the Foya workshop was held on March 25th at the Tamba Lamine Taylor Council Hall.
Opening both events, the chairman of the Board of Tax Appeals, Ambassador Charles A. Minor, told taxpayers that the Board was delighted to be in rural Liberia and to be with taxpayers, many of them private individuals, small and medium businesses, who are making their contributions to nation building.
The two workshops were in continuation of earlier workshops on the same subject held in Buchanan, Grand Bassa County, with participants from Cestos, Rivercess County, Tubmanburg, Bomi County, and Greenville, Sinoe County. Participants also came from Barclayville, Grand Kru County and Pleebo, Maryland County.
The Chairman explained the functions of the three branches of Government and why they are so important to the workings of the State; and further explained that the Board of Tax Appeals is a quasi-judicial body established by the Revenue Code of 2000 to hear taxpayers’ appeals from tax payment determinations of the Liberia Revenue Authority.
He said all taxpayers need to be aware of their responsibility to pay taxes and of their right to due process. The Board’s primary objective is to ensure speedy and inexpensive settlement of disputes coming in the form of appeals from taxpayers against tax determination of revenue authorities.
The chairman stressed that BOTA is to operate in all 15 counties as there are taxpayers in all the counties who should get to know about the Board, how it operates, and to utilize its services. He informed the participants that some of the decisions of the Board have been affirmed by the Supreme Court of Liberia.
He said the Board is not just for taxpayers in and around Monrovia and some citizens and residents in the country are unaware or appear to be unaware of their responsibility while others do not know the different taxes they are obligated to pay and how to determine what amounts are to be paid.
A fundamental issue among many taxpayers around the country, he said, is what happens to their taxes which are used to finance roads construction, schools, hospitals and pay the salaries of civil servants, among others.
He said government has launched the Decentralization Program to bring the government closer to the people in the counties, districts and towns and when the decentralization policy is implemented, part of the national revenues, collected by way of taxes, will be budgeted and spent in the counties and districts in a more decentralized manner.
At the Zwedru workshop, Senator Marshal Dennis of Grand Gedeh County appreciated the Board’s presence and the awareness on taxation and the benefits the Liberian people obtain from paying their taxes.
Senator Dennis was the first panelist of the workshop who also explained the role of the legislature in the decentralization process. He said a bill is before the legislature and it is carefully being reviewed.
Zwedru City Mayor Madam Ruth Kayee, the second panelist, said people in the county are confused and don’t understand the different payments that they make to government institutions and organizations and the fees they pay to the municipal authority and the taxes they pay to the Liberia Revenue Authority.
Mr. Eric Momo, the Assistant Superintendent of Grand Gedeh County for Fiscal Affairs, represented the superintendent and said his office is open for any redress that taxpayers may have over the confusion of payment in the county.
He said that his office works closely with all Government Agencies that are responsible for the collection of taxes and fees in the county and explained that the county needs information about the taxes that business people need to pay.