… While enforcing Real Estate Tax collection in Ganta
The team of Liberia Revenue Authority Real Estate Tax Division, enforcing the collection of real estate taxes in Ganta, clashed with the Revenue Collector in the Ganta Collectorate over Mr. Bennett Bull for what many onlookers described as lock of cooperation.
Both parties remain tight-lipped in speaking to the press, but from their altercation, it appears that the Ganta Collector felt unestimated by those from Monrovia for informing him of their mission in Ganta for the enforcement of real estate tax collection.
But those from Monrovia said they informed the local LRA outpost upon their arrival in Ganta on Sunday, March 21, 2021 and made the collector aware of their mission.
The group from Monrovia was very aggressive in their response, causing both sides to trade insults, threatening that if the local collector tried to obstruct any of their activities, he would be putting his job at stake.
The tension began when the team from Monrovia was seen re-opening those business centers they had earlier closed for not paying their real estate taxes. However, the local collector demanded to see the tax/revenue receipts of those business centers before they could be re-opened.
But the Monrovia team defied him, responding that if the collector locked any business center that they had opened, they order the lock burst.
However, the confusion was later laid to rest after both parties made several calls to their bosses to the head office (Monrovia).
On Monday, March 22, 2021 the team of LRA inspectors, headed by Samuel M. Seidu, began enforcing what many described as ‘surprise’ Real Estate Tax collection in the commercial city of Ganta, closing down many business centers, excluding residential area.
Some of the business people who spoke to this paper complained that the action by the Monrovia Team took them by surprise, while other new business owners said they had never been educated on real estate tax. They said what they are aware of is the ordinary revenue taxes they paid to the local revenue offices around the country.
Most of the business owners, who are lessees, said they have been paying their real estate tax regularly, but the coming of COVID-19 undermined or hampered every activity as well as those whom they’ve reached agreements with, as lessees.
Some of them have their current revenue receipts but, according to them the team of enforcers from Monrovia condemned the receipts, arguing that the amounts paid were very little and did not represent the property the money was paid for.
‘We have paid our real estate tax for this year, but the team is saying the money we paid is small, so they are going to reappraise the value of the property and re-bill us,” said Nathan Kpaklah of the Kpaklah Estate. “We are waiting for them to do the remeasurement or appraisal so we can pay.”
Some of the businesses affected by the first day’s exercise include Bunty Pharmaceuticals, the Rahul Building Materials Store, the Part It Better business, and the Lucky Furniture, among others.
The issue of the surprise visit by the Monrovia team remains one of the primary concerns among many business people. However, one of the enforcers, who did not want to be named, said the exercise should have begun on March 1, 2021, but they gave two weeks to allow the business community to prepare, saying, “it was aired”, something no business person could attest to.
When contacted, the team from Monrovia refused to comment further, arguing that they were not clothed with the authority to speak for the LRA. Efforts to get the relevant phone number could not materialize as there was no connection or contact given for their spokesperson.
However, in the circular provided, there are 15 enforcers, headed by Samuel M. Seidu and one valuer, duly authorized and instructed to carry out a special operation verification on real estate tax for the period from 2017 to 2020. They expected to visit Ganta, Sanniquellie and Yekepa, respectively.