Many tax experts maintain that nothing particularly fosters Liberia’s fiscal undercapitalization than the woeful laissez-faire of its citizens and partners to pay their legitimate taxes and for Government to enforce tax laws to the letter. Consequently, the country’s annual budget remains at a paltry US$500 million when, according to the experts, Liberia’s actual annual worth could be around US$2 billion in a tax-conscious environment. Some of the underpinnings for this pathetic situation is because those who are supposed to lead by example, who are supposed to be first and regular in paying their taxes, are failing in that responsibility. And it seems the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) is awake to the failure and seeking ways to animate elected officials and other public servants to take the lead or else. The Analyst reports.
The Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) appears to be ready to thread where it had feared for a long time now—calling bigwigs in the public space to attention over their sluggishness to meet their tax obligations.
In a March 30, 2021 circular addressed to “all appointed and elected officials and public employees”, and signed by Mr. Thomas Doe Nah, Commissioner General, the LRA is requesting prompt and regular payment of their real property taxes.
“In furtherance of the LRA’s objective to assess, enforce and collect legitimate revenue for Liberia’s government and people, we want to remind all appointed and elected officials and public sector employees of their obligation to pay Real Property taxes,” the LRA Memorandum asserts, stating that despite repeated requests for compliance with Real Property tax obligations, many officials and public sector employees have reneged on this responsibility.
“Tax payment is a civic duty for all,” the Memo reminded public servants, adding: “Liberians, most especially for officials and government employees that are beneficiaries of state resources.”
The Authority demands: We, therefore, request the payment of all Real Property taxes on or before July 1, 2021,” outlining punitive or remedial actions that officials and public sector employees would face if they failed to heed the July 1 deadline.
Amongst other things, the LRA says it will restrict duty-free privileges and require a tax clearance certificate to restore benefits and that the names of delinquent public officials will be published in both print and electronic media.
The LRA also avers that it has engaged the Liberia Anti-corruption Commission (LACC) so that tax receipts and tax clearance certificates related to taxable assets accompany the declaration of assets to the LACC.
“If delinquency persists, the LRA will not relent in pursuing discussions that will lead to other sanctions,” the Circular further stresses, emphasizing that “taxes are required to promote the Pro-poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development, pay salaries, provide essential services, national security, among others.”
“Whenever we pay our taxes, we support the success of the government we serve,” the LRA reminded public officials.