The Ganta Collectorate of the Liberia Revenue Authority has a number of local businesses on its radar to take stern action against them for failure to pay their taxes.
In an interview with reporters in Ganta recently, the collector of Ganta Revenue Office, Mr. Morris Kiazulu, said the wood/plank sellers are not paying tax and planning to close them for non compliance.
Mr. Kiazulu said since the plank sellers organized themselves as a union, they have never paid a cent to the national government as tax, something he said the LRA is threatening to have them closed until they can meet up with their obligation.
The plank sellers, known as the “Liberia Chain Saw and Timber Union”, own and operate the largest plank field in Ganta.
He said the LRA has engaged them on many occasions, but they are yet to comply, adding, “this time we are going to close them down until they can do all their payment.”
When this reporter visited the plank field for response to LRA’s claim, the vice president for administration, Mr. Anthony Sulu, said the office was closed and he could not make any comment.
According to the LRA Ganta Collectorate, the TOTAL Liberia Ganta service station, a petroleum vendor, was among those entities not paying tax.
When asked whether TOTAL Ganta service station was paying tax through the company’s headquarters in Monrovia, Kiazulu said if so, “then it would not be his concern because, according to LRA, where you make business is where tax is paid.”
The TOTAL Ganta service station manager refused to respond to inquires made by this reporter about Kiazulu’s assertion. A TOTAL Liberia official in Monrovia told the Daily Observer off the record that because the company runs a franchise system, all TOTAL Liberia service stations are responsible for their own taxes.
The Daily Observer then placed an inquiry to the LRA head office in Paynesville, to ascertain the tax payment status of the TOTAL Ganta service station.
According to Darlingston Talery, Commissioner for Domestic Tax at LRA, TOTAL Liberia is considered a non-consolidated tax paying entity, meaning that each Total service station is responsible to pay its own taxes.
Unlike other petroleum vendors, such as Srimex and Aminata & Sons, Inc., which are consolidated tax-paying entities, TOTAL Liberia operates a franchise system, which gives private individuals the opportunity to operate a Total service station as their private business, while carrying the TOTAL brand.
Just last month, on July 30, the LRA awarded TOTAL Liberia as the highest value importer in the petroleum industry in the Customs Tax category.
Meanwhile, Kiazulu has praised vehicle owners for their compliance and added that schools were also paying for their permits.
The Ganta Revenue Collectorate is one of the leading collectorates in Liberia, making Nimba County to rank high in revenue collection, only next to Montserrado County. In one of LRA’s quarterly reports for 2017, Nimba came third, making many taxpayers to wonder why.
The proliferation of pit sawing has vandalized most of the community forests across Nimba County, especially the eastern part, bordering Ivory Coast, leaving towns and villages undeveloped and vulnerable to storms. However, whether these pit sawyers and dealers are paying taxes, or whether the communities where the timber originate are benefiting, remain key questions many are asking.