Liberia Revenue Authority intensifies Enforcement of the Collection of Real Property Taxes, Several Businesses shut Down, As H & A Faces Prosecution

The Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) has commenced the vigorous enforcement of the collection of real property taxes from delinquent commercial property owners in Monrovia and its environs for their failure to pay legitimate taxes they owe the Liberian Government.

The Real Estate Tax Division in collaboration with the Legal Department of the LRA kicked off the enforcement exercise on Friday, August 7, 2015 forcing several big businesses to comply, while shutting down others.

The LRA obtained closure orders from the Tax Court at the Temple of Justice in Monrovia to shut the doors of 14 premises after all legal efforts to have them pay their taxes failed. The premises were closed for the purpose of examination of taxpayer records, audit and provision of advice to the taxpayers concerning compliance with tax obligations. The LRA served each of the entities their assessment notice, a notice of determination which became final after 30 days and a 72-hour warning notice in keeping with sections 1042(d) and 70 of the Liberia Revenue Code and LRA regulations, before proceeding to the tax court for the closure orders.

The LRA Team shut the doors of the building housing the Richard Henries Law Firm on Benson Street and the Samuel D. Herring/Johnson Dayoy building located down Water Side among several others. Owners of other properties including the Provident Hotel on 9th Street, Sinkor, Rosina Grimes Property on the Corner of Gurley and Front Streets and the Benoni Urey Property on 10th Street  among others, made immediate payments and installment arrangements to settle their real estate tax obligations when LRA Enforcement and Legal teams moved in to seal their doors. The LRA extends thanks to all Taxpayers who complied.

The exercise continued on Saturday August 8 with the closure of several properties, compelling additional owners to make payments and installment arrangements to settle their real estate tax obligations.  Saturday, August 8 exercise affected the Mohammed Abdullah Property on 18th Street, Sinkor, the Borla Investment Property on 24th Street owned by Mr. Hilary A. Dennis and the Martha N. Kashouh Property, located at the GSA Road Junction.

LRA Chief Legal Counsel Max T. Duncan said all legal processes due were afforded each taxpayer and the legal procedures called for under the statute were exhausted leading to the enforcement of the closure orders. Businesses shut down can be closed for seven days during which time they may settle  their bills inclusive  of interests and penalties pursuant  to the Liberia Revenue Code.

During the period of the closure, the LRA will do a tax audit, tax education and will work along with the delinquent tax payers to meet their obligations under the law, Chief Counsel Duncan said.

The LRA Chief Counsel indicated that no amount of insults and threats from delinquent tax payers will deter the LRA. He stressed that the enforcement exercise will continue throughout Monrovia and its environs until the real property taxes due the Government of Liberia are collected.

The LRA is urging owners and or caretakers of real properties in and around Monrovia to contact the Real Estate Tax Division of the LRA to make settlement to avoid embarrassment.

In a related development, LRA is pursuing the prosecution H & A Corporation for tax evasion. The H & A Corporation is an importer of F. G. Wilson generators.

Among several irregularities, an LRA investigation uncovered that the H & A Corporation on June 23, 2015 broke into its customs bonded warehouse and took away 16 generators as a means of evading the payment of custom duty and thereby denying the country of needed revenue.

The action on the part of H & A violates Section 14207 (a) and (5) of the Customs Code which stipulates a penalty of LD$200,000 or two years imprisonment or both.

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