‘Pay Your Taxes to Develop Our Country’

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President Weah pays his real estate taxes using the service

Pres. Weah Admonishes taxpayers as LRA Launches Mobile Tax Payment via Orange Money

President George Manneh Weah has called on Liberians and foreigners to pay their taxes in compliance with the law for the development of the country.

He made the plea on Thursday, April 12, when he served as the chief launcher at the ceremony of a new service that will allow Liberian taxpayers to pay their taxes via Orange Money.

The mobile tax payment technology was launched by the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) at the Monrovia City Hall.
The newly-launched mobile tax payment technology allows taxpayers, mainly small and medium income earners, from US$500 down, to pay their taxes through the Orange Money Service.

President Weah said, “Money must be paid to the Government of Liberia; money is in the country, but not paid in taxes to the government to meet its development agenda. The government will remain flexible to taxpayers and will allow them to pay their taxes quarterly if need be.”

President Weah launched the service by becoming the first Liberian citizen to pay his taxes online in an undisclosed currency and amount, using the Orange Money service. “Our e-revenue strategy is to increase revenue collection efficiently through technology in order to be able to better redistribute collected money for our developmental pro-poor agenda,” he said.

“This service helps to improve efficiency, helps achieve policy outcomes and contributes to economic policy objectives. It helps to build trust between the government and its people.”

After going through the prompts on his mobile phone, the president announced: “Transaction successful!”

The LRA is an autonomous agency established by an Act of the Legislature and began operations in 2014, to collect lawful revenue for the government. It works under the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP).

Commissioner General Elfrieda Stewart Tamba, explaining the success of the venture, said it was through “Goal 4 of our strategy that is aimed at transforming tax administration and using Information Technology.”

She attributed the success in the technological setup to the LRA technical team, Orange-Liberia, United Bank for Africa (UBA) and Lonestar Cell MTN.

She also commended USAID (United States Aid for International Development) for its technical and capacity building support to the LRA in meeting up with the drafting of its tax policies.

Outlining the benefits of the new technology, Madam Tamba said, “Taxpayers could take days standing at windows of LRA, MFDP, the Freeport of Monrovia and other revenue generating entities to pay their taxes; some of which could even lead to closing shops and operating entities for small and medium-size businesses;but with this technology they can remain in the comfort of their homes or even while on the move to pay their taxes in less than five minutes.”

She said the new method is meant to facilitate voluntary compliance in order to enhance domestic resource mobilization. The Commissioner-General said the new technology will minimize potential corruption by reducing cash tax payment to individuals at revenue generating points.

She said modernizing tax administration is also to facilitate the government’s pro-poor agenda. “We need roads, water, electricity, housing and almost everything in this country, and when we travel we see that we are far behind,” Madam Tamba said.

Mr. William Saamoi, Director for Legal, Regulatory and Governmental Affairs at Orange-Liberia, on behalf of the company’s CEO Mr. Mamadou Coulibaly, said: “Orange Liberia extends gratitude to the government through the LRA for opening this unique partnership between the government and Orange-Liberia for the creation of this platform for the payment of taxes via Orange Money.”

He also thanked the UBA and USAID who had contributed to the process. “Today we are proud to say that with the collaboration of our partners, we are the first telecom operator who have been able to develop a tax payment system through our platform that is not only user friendly but also very convenient, flexible and highly efficient on capturing information on payments made by taxpayers,” Mr. Saamoi said.

The Head of the United Bank of Africa Mr. Olalekan Balogun concurred with Madam Tamba, noting: “Today is a milestone for UBA because this will provide efficiency, convenience, and transparency in the way we collect taxes for LRA. It is a transformation because this will change the way people pay their taxes, and how LRA can ensure an enhanced and more robust collection process.”

Available services covered by the technology for tax payment include Corporate Income tax, Withholding tax (The amount of an employee’s pay withheld by an employer and sent directly to the government as partial payment of income tax), Personal Income tax, Real Estate tax, Business tax (2% and 4%), Excise tax (A tax paid when purchases are made on a specific good) and Goods and Services Tax (GST).

Other available services for non-tax payments are birth certificates, marriage certificates, travel certificates (otherwise known as passports) fire inspection fees and business registration.

3 COMMENTS

  1. Yap, unfortunately everybody pays taxes in every developed country. Many kinds of taxes: Propety tax, sales tax, development tax, business tax and so on.
    In the US, a sales tax is usually flat. For instance, you go to a 7-11 or a grocery store and by a $0.99 bottle of water, you will pay $1.05. If you buy two bottles of the same size, let’s say one for you and one for your significant order, you’ll pay $2.12. If a rich woman buys the same quantity of water, she’ll pay the same amount you’ve paid.

    So how’s about property taxes?
    Now, it’s a different ball game. If a property owner is located in a certain geographic area, let’s say in the suburb, the tax she or he pays is different than a city homeowner.

    Back to Liberia:
    I recommend a flat tax for homeowners in Liberia. But because a flat tax is recommended, it doesn’t mean that every homeowner should pay the same amount nationwide. Oh no! Montserrado is the most affluent county in the nation. The city of Monrovia is blessed with tons of businesses, the embassies of world are represented there and the seat of the government of Liberia is obviously located in Montserrado county. There are four runners-up counties to Montserrado county. Those four runners-up are: Margibi, Bong, Nimba and Grand Bassa.

    The counties are identified as such because they have multinational companies that exhibit a bigger productivity output than the remaining ten counties.
    Hypothetically, if every homeowner by law in Montserrado county is required to pay $3.00 per month and if there are 300,000 homeowners in the county, the total amount to be collected is $ 900,000.

    The four runner-up counties:
    If there are a total of 300,000 homeowners in the counties of Margibi, Bong, Grand Bassa and Nimba, and if the flat amount of $1.00 is imposed by law, the total amount to be collected every month is $300,000.00

    Now the ten remaining counties:
    If there are 300,000 homeowners counted, and if the flat tax imposed is $0.50, the total amount to be collected is $150,000.00 monthly.
    So, $ 900,000
    300,000
    150,000
    ————————
    $ 1, 350,000.00 per month or
    $ 16,200,000 per year.

    I hope the proposed method will be looked into.

  2. I support your idea and the whole idea of tax paying by everyone in the country. In western countries everyone pays taxes as you eloquently laid it out. Prior to 1980 our people pay hut tax yearly. I remember my father paying $4/hut or house. Unfortunately, the money collected was taken to Monrovia or so I thought and nothing was heard of it. The amount collected was never made known let alone sending portion back to develop the towns and villages it was collected from. With the level of corruption in Liberia today with no accountability, our people will be paying for those so-called ministers and other officials resorts some where around the world. Unlike Liberia, there is accountability and oversight of every tax dollar collected in the USA. Besides, tax dollar in USA is used for development in the various communities to fix roads. pay for garbage collection etc. And, more importantly, no one is above the law in the USA. In Liberia, people in power believe they are above the law and they walk around violating the rights of the citizens everyday. Not a single official in the present government has declared his or her assets including the president and no one dare question that. The idea is good, implementation…

  3. Comrade Gonkar,
    You wrote an impassioned piece as well. I sometimes wonder why the good intelligent people like you and others cannot be hired in positions of influence in Liberia. Frankly, it always boggles the my mind.
    Everyone ought to pay taxes. The book of St. Matthew tells us that our Lord Jesus Christ was required by law to pay “Temple” tax. The payment of Temple tax was a requirement for Jewish men. And yes, He paid his share by ordering Cephas (Peter) to go to the creek to fetch a fish. In the head of the fish, coins were found in order to pay His Temple tax!

    You are right. The poor people who live in the countryside are horrendously squeezed to pay taxes. The poor people do not have motor roads in their villages or hospitals to treat “curable diseases”. In some cases, there aren’t good elementary schools. But yet, there’s no one to address their issues. Without complaints, they pay their dimes and nickels. Finally, after the money has been squeezed out of them, the fat cats snatch it all away in order to feed their insatiable elastic guts!

    The best way to collect taxes will be to collect data. Example , if I am assigned to collect taxes in Ganta, Liberia, it is imperative to collect data. That’s to say how may houses are there in Ganta. If I count 200 houses and the amount of 1.00 is the flat rate for all Ganta homeowners, the exact amount of $200 will be collected and reported to my boss.

    Gonkar, let’s pray for Liberia.

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