The Deputy Commissioner General for technical services of the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA), Madam Dekontee King Sackie, has urged new tax agents, who have joined the Liberia Tax and Business Solutions firm to maintain integrity and self-confidence.
“Self-confidence is the greatest characteristic of success. No cockiness, certainly no conceit, and by no means arrogance,” she admonished.
Madam Sackie made these remarks last Saturday at the program marking the certification of over 170 students who have completed four months of basic tax education and application processes.
The program was meant to equip trainees with the necessary knowledge, skills and attitude for work as tax agents and educate business communities, citizens and non-citizens on the payment of taxes. It was organized by the Liberia Tax and Business Solutions (LIBTAS), a management consultancy firm in the country.
The LRA Commissioner General for Technical Services, who spoke on the vision, mission statement and the expectation for tax payers, said the entity is an independent, autonomous authority established under the Act of the Legislature in September 2013 replacing the Department of Revenue of the Ministry of Finance (including the Bureau of Internal Revenue and the Customs & Excise Bureau), as defined in Chapter 21 of the Executive law of 1972.
According to her, the LRA is clothed with the responsibility to collect government’s revenues and taxes.
She said as professional revenue administrators adhering to international standards, they are responsible to serve as models for revenue collection and service delivery.
Madam Sackie indicated that Liberian citizens, the business community and stakeholders need to recognize certain basic rights and responsibilities of the LRA.
The LRA, she said, would be partnering with all stakeholders to ensure that the objective of the institution is met and noted that the LRA believes that if the national government can invest in the human resources it will motivate the staff to have integrity in the discharge of their duties.
Earlier, the managing director of LIBTAS, Mr. Henry Luke, who gave an overview of the firm, said his entity would ensure that people and businesses are not interrupted in their course of operations.
He said LIBTAS is comprised of professional lawyers, accountants, tax administrators, economists, surveyors, engineers, architects and other professionals who have years of experience in the private and public sectors and are licensed under reputable professional groups in and out of Liberia.
“We have trained tax agents assigned in Montserrado, Margibi, Grand Bassa, Maryland, Nimba and Bong Counties, and a mobile team to cover the rest of Liberia. Our field agents are financially disciplined and supported by behavior and financial bond,” he declared.
Some of LIBTAS functions, he said, include real property valuation and tax filing, personal and business income tax filing, expedited business registration, tax clearance, permits and other legal documents.
For his part, Mr. Albert Nyuangar, administrator, Board of Tax Appeals (BOTA), lauded LIBTAS for the effort to assist the tax system reform in Liberia.
Speaking on, “Promoting a Just and Fair Tax System, the role and procedure of BOTA,” Mr. Nyangar gave a brief background of BOTA and noted that “Taxpayers may feel that we are part of the tax authorities but we are not. We are completely independent, promoting the rights of taxpayers by rendering due process in tax disputes and ensuring that the payment of tax is fair and just.”
He said tax proceedings before the Board are not bound to follow the rules of evidence that apply before the court of law, adding, the Board may be informal whenever informality is consistent with justice and fair process.
Based on that, a taxpayer may appeal and act on his or her own behalf, or designate in writing or via power of attorney someone to appeal for him/her. But if the proceeding is concerning a legal person or entity, any persons duly authorized by the legal person or entity may appear or act, he emphasized.
According to him, before a taxpayer appeals to the Board, the internal appeal process of the tax authority must have been exhausted by the taxpayer and the authority head as a final decision on said determination.
“If this process is not followed, the Board shall render the appeal imperfect and refer you to tax authority,” he added.
He said all appeals before the Board shall commence with a filing of a signed original notice of appeal form which can be obtained from the office of the board. This process shall be done within 30 days of the tax authority’s final decision following an internal appeal process.
“If the taxpayer is unsatisfied with a decision of the Board, the taxpayer has the right to appeal to the tax court but that process must be verbally at hearing after the Board has rendered a decision to be followed by a written notice on standard form of appeals to the tax court within 15 working days,” he concluded.