-Holds LRA in contempt and authorizes payment of US$200 within 48 hours
The Tax Court at the Temple of Justice has ordered the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) to pay Bridgeway Corporation US$187,019.47 plus interest of US$170,671.86 totaling US$357,691.33, as tariff illegally imposed on the consignment of cigarettes imported by the company.
Judge Mozart Chesson’s ruling also held LRA in contempt and ordered the institution to “pay US$200 into the Judiciary’s account within 48 hours; and they must present a receipt to the court for their auditors’ misleading of the court and because of the odious tactic designed and intended to delay, harass and frustrate the case.”
LRA’s auditors had earlier contended that they imposed the tariff on Bridgeway Corporation, but the company later sold the product to their customers for a price that equaled the tariff. “We will not pay the tariff imposed on Bridgeway because they have already collected the money from the sale of the consignment to their customers,” the LRA further said.
To justify their claim, the auditors were also able to present documentation proving that Bridgeway had indeed passed on the increased cost to consumers and the corporation did not require a refund.
But, in his ruling Chesson said a review of the document presented by LRA’s auditors revealed no such information or evidence that Bridgeway Corporation even increased the price of cigarettes to their customers.
Bridgeway Corporation filed a complaint stating the LRA contravened the code by applying tax rates that were not amended by the legislature, and requested a refund of US$187,019.47.
The Corporation contended that between November and December 2016, they imported a consignment of cigarettes which the LRA assessed at 80% excise tax and goods tax at 10%, contrary to the Fiscal year 2016 and 2017 budget, where the Executive Branch recommended increments of 50% and 10% in excise tax on tobacco and goods respectively.
Before that, the amended Revenue Code of 2,000 prescribed excise tax for cigarettes at 35% and goods tax at 10%.
Bridgeway further contended that section 14226 (c) (3) of the code requires first that the excess duty paid for which a refund is sought must have resulted from the legal imposition of duty and not from an illegal act.
They also argued that LRA committed an inequitable action and the entity must be made to pay back US$187, 019.47 and they should receive the excess back.