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Income Tax Appellate Board Commission briefs press on mandate

November 25, 2015 By Hassan Gbassay Koroma

Public Relation Officer at theIncome Tax Appellate Board Commission has said the board was established to create a level playing ground between the National Revenue Authority (NRA) and taxpayers in the country, and to encourage the latter to file complaints to the commission as and when circumstances dictate.

Siman Alie Mas-Conteh yesterday addressed the press at their Campbell Street Office and disclosed that the presser was convened to apprise journalists about how they arbitrate between taxpayers and the general public in tax disputes.

He said they are an autonomous body from the NRA, with the latter’s mandate derived from the Income Tax Act, 2000, as amended, while the Board of Appellate Commissioners completes the structure in tax governance by mediating in disputes between the NRA and the Taxpayers

He said the commission was created by an Act of Parliament in 2000 to look into complaints filed by taxpayers against National Revenue Authority, adding that they have power to fine any defaulter an amount not exceeding forty million Leones.

The spokesperson for the Appellate Board underscored that a lot of taxpayers and some members of the public do not quite understand the functions of the commission, the reason they have embarked on the current engagement with the media to explain the functions of the commission to the public and taxpayers in the Western Area and provinces.

“Our mission is to ensure that we create a level playground between the National Revenue Authority and the taxpayers in the country,” he said.

He disclosed that when complaints are made to the commission they invite the taxpayer and officers of NRA and ask that both parties come along with relevant documents which the board will use to look into facts presented by both parties, adding that a complainant taxpayers will be allowed to attend with a lawyer or an accountant to prove his case. He said if any of the parties feel aggrieved after the intervention of the board then they will be at liberty to file an appeal at the High Court of Sierra Leone.

Commissioner Prince Bindi saidthree stages of appeal are available to a taxpayer dissatisfied with his tax assessment. Firstly, according to Section 137 (1) of the Income Tax Act 2000 any taxpayer who is dissatisfied with an assessment may file an objection to the Commissioner-General within thirty days of service of the notice of assessment, with the objection being in writing and grounds stated, including facts or any point of law at issue, while the amount which the taxpayer believes he/she should be assessed must be specified.

He said the Commissioner-General of NRA may allow the objection in whole or in part and amend the assessment accordingly or disallow the objection.

Secondly, he said, the Income Tax Act 2000 establishes the ‘Income Tax Board of Appellate Commissioners’ to hear and determine appeals from taxpayers with respect to decisions from objections filed to the Commissioner-General of NRA, adding that in carrying out its functions, the board could summon witnesses, compel the production of documents, the examination of witnesses abroad and fine for contempt.

Commissioner Bindi said that in deciding an appeal, the Board of Appellate Commissioners may make an order affirming, reducing, increasing or varying the assessment under appeal or refer the assessment for reconsideration by the Commissioner in accordance with the directions or recommendations of the Board.
He maintained that a dissatisfied taxpayer may appeal to the High Court, in accordance with the Income Tax Act 2000 as amended.

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