Mr. Abdulai Conteh said that it was not the intention of the NRA to put people out of business, but noted that those business houses that have accumulated huge arrears overtime, and have refused to settle such tax liabilities despite several pleas have closed down.
“As an Authority we want to maximize revenue collection and at the same time be seen to have a human face which is why we are willing to negotiate with taxpayers to enable them meets outstanding liabilities if a substantial payment and a plan guaranteeing payment of remaining taxes due is made”, Mr Conteh explained. He however cautioned that the payment of PAYE and others withholding taxes are non-negotiable.”
He explained that since withholding taxes are deducted at source of income, either from individuals in gainful employment (PAYE/Pay Roll), contractor and or landlords, their non-payment denotes a shameful theft against the nation. In the case of PAYE tax for example, it is the responsibility of employer to deduct /withhold pay-as-you-earn (PAYR) taxes from their employee wages/salaries and pay them to the NRA according to the prevailing rates on or before the 15th day of the following month. Employers are only expected to hold these monies in trust for the NRA until they are paid into the Consolidated Revenue Fund via various commercial banks. It is therefore unacceptable that some employers are falling to remit these monies to the NRA using laid down procedure.
Mr Conteh said failing to deduct PAYE or failing to pay employer PAYE deduction to the NRA is a serious crime and that the commissioner –General, Madam Haja Kallah Kamara is determined to tighten the noose on any business/company that have fall foul and failed to meet such an important employer obligation. All those owing PAYE and other withholding taxes will not only have to pay such as taxes in full but also penalties and interest for late payment or more stringent action will be taken against them .such enforcement action include but not limited to seizure of business and personal property, imposition of travel bans or prosecution for not paying taxes. The same also goes for companies who deduct contractor withholding taxes from their suppliers without remitting them to the NRA. While urging defaulters to settle their outstanding liabilities or risk being prosecuted in accordance with relevant tax laws. Mr Conteh noted that the NRA has in the past been forced to close several businesses over outstanding taxes after softer attempts proved futile. He said the authority is ready to go a step further this year by publicly humiliating those who fail to respond in time to those warning as it intends to release a list of shame identifying companies that have failed to meet their tax obligation in a bid to compel them to comply with tax obligation and honor their debts. Remaining the public of NRAs scared responsibility of collecting domestic revenues to support governments developmental agenda, he said demands are placed on the government provide social services such as quality health care, education, roads and security to citizen. To do this he added people must pay taxes.
The NRA is expected to collectLe2.079 trillion this year so far the authority has collected over Le 1.8 trillion and is racing against time to not only meet but exceed its revenue target .Since being appointed as Commissioner –General in 2009 Madam Haja Kallah Kamara, NRAs Commissioner-General has spearheaded several reforms that have enabled the NRA religiously meet its revenue target even during the peak of the Ebola outbreak. According to Mr Conteh when it comes to addressing the issues of tax avoidance and evasion, the authority has not been complacent. Definitely we have been able to consistently meet our annual revenue targets because a very high percentage of our taxpayer voluntarily comply with their tax obligation. For those who don’t comply, we have intensified efforts to recover tax arrears by setting up a robust debts collection until. In addition, the authority has been reviewing tax laws in order to eliminate legal loopholes that permit companies to evade tax. We hope to build a culture of voluntary compliance while enforcing tax laws to maximize revenue collection.