7 February 2014

Liberia: All Set for Lone Star U.S. $19 Million Debt

The Tax Court Tuesday denied a joint motion by the Finance Ministry and the Board Of Tax Appeal (BOTA) to dismiss a petition by Lone Star Communications for review in a US$19.1 million debt owed the government.

Tax Court presiding judge Mozart A. Chesson ruled that Section 59 does not apply to appeal from an administrative agency to a court cited in the Ministry and BOTA joint motions to dismiss.

Judge Chesson said Section 59 states "provided that the taxpayer first pays the tax due or provide a bond or other security for pay as provided in the regulation except that in the case of an emergency hearing under Section 60 (b) (1), advance payment of tax or provision of security for payment is not required."

He stated that it is clear from records that LCC made request for emergency hearing to BOTA on 7 July 2013 contrary to the Ministry and BOTA claim that LCC lacks capacity because it failed to pay tax.

The presiding judge further pointed out that phased "immediate harm" must refer to some action even more drastic and harmful to the taxpayer than seizure of taxpayer's property.

He gives notice to both parties that hearing into the petition for judicial review into the case will be heard on 18 February 2014.

The Finance Ministry indicted Lone Star Communications for being indebted to the government in the tone of US$19.1m based on the audit report in 2007 and 2011.

The GSM company admitted owing the government but noted that the said mount claimed by the Finance ministry is not what the company owes the government.

LCC took the Ministry to the Board Of Tax Appeal, which upheld the Ministry's audited report, prompting the LCC to file a petition for review at the Tax Court.

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