A Tax and Customs Tribunal headed by Justice Basiru Mahoney of the HIgh Court was Thursday inaugurated at the Office of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs at the Quadrangle in Banjul. The inauguration ceremony was presided over by the Finance minister, Abdou Kolley,
The Tax Tribunal has the jurisdiction pursuant to Section 229 of the Income and Sales Tax Act to hear applications for review of reviewable decisions made under the Act. Similarly, the Customs and Excise Act 2010, under Article 261 provides for the establishment of a Customs Tribunal for the purpose of hearing appeals under Sections 176 and 212 of the Act.
Inaugurating the tribunal, Minister Kolley told the gathering that for the purposes of expediency, efficiency and synergies, it is decided that the members appointed to the Tax Tribunal will also sit on the Customs Tribunal such that the two tribunals will operate as a single Tax and Customs Tribunal. He commended the members of the tribunal for accepting the challenges of being the pioneer members of the new and all-important institution, reminding them that their appointment is in recognition of their individual and selfless service to nation building.
He explained that the provision and the establishment of the tribunal is a major component in the ongoing tax and customs administration reforms of the government. "The government recognises the fundamental need to protect the taxpayers and in that regard, show the need to create avenues for those that may be aggrieved by the decisions and actions of the tax authorities to seek redress," he added.
Minister Kolley stressed that it is now in the interest of the taxpayers to familiarise themselves with the provisions of the tax laws as they relate to their rights to appeal from decisions of tax authorities. "I also expect the GRA to include in their taxpayer education programmes, messages to sensitise taxpayers on the establishment of the Tribunal, its mandate and how they could benefit from its services," he said.
The president of the Tribunal, Justice Basiru, Mahoney said there are no fees payable for the Tribunal and no costs are to be ordered except for frivolous applications which attract a maximum of D5000. According to him, Section 176 of the Income and Sales tax Act provides the procedure for a taxpayer who is dissatisfied with a taxation decision to lodge an objection to that decision with the commissioner general.
A taxation decision, he continued, is defined in Section 168 of the Act as a taxation assessment which includes income tax assessment, fringe benefits tax assessment and sales tax assessment. While assuring Minister Kolley of his team's readiness to discharge their responsibilities effectively, Justice Mahoney equally thanked the authorities for the appointment.