The National Revenue Authority (NRA) this week organized a consultative meeting with the Tourist Board and managers of hotels and guest houses to discuss the current draft increment of 10% on taxes that will be levied on consumers in the country.
The General Manger of the Tourist Board Mr. Cecil Williams said that the board has been collecting revenues and other taxes from hotels and guest houses which were being used by the board for the day to day running of the administration during the past years.
Mr. Williams further intimated that the board normally relies on government to provide the Tourist Board with funds to carry out its functions and noted that the tax per bed have been 7.5% and most hotels and quest houses were cooperating.
He however noted that it is time for the NRA to take over its revenue collection for the utilization of the generated funds for the benefit and development of Sierra Leone and also spoke about the planned increment on taxes per bed from 7.5% to 10% after the bill could have been passed by parliament.
The Commissioner General of the National Revenue Authority Alieu Sesay properly explained about the new tax increment for hotels and guest houses and urged all managers of hotels and guest houses to abide by the stipulated increment of 10% and promptly pay to the National Revenue Authority.
He threatened to deal with tax defaulters aggressively and noted that all payments should be done before the 15th of every month and failure to comply by hotel and guest house owners NRA will levy penalties and additional interest of 22%.
He also said that, government wants everyone to pay their taxes for maximum returns adding that the collection of taxes will take effect next month to enable NRA fulfill the criteria for the satisfaction of IMF bench marks which will help the country to attract donors to invest and government will also qualify for loans from the International Community particularly the IMF.
Mr. Sesay how ever noted that registered hotels and guest houses have been benefiting immensely from the government because they are given duty free waivers and other facilities to boost the tourism industry.
The commissioner emphasized the need for prompt payment of taxes as they government rely heavily on taxes which accounts for 60% of budget support and 40% from donors which he said is not forthcoming as of now since the APC came to power last year.
He also called on hotel managers and guest house operators to utilize the bed fees and accommodation tax return forms with an up-to-date record of all customers and the 10% tax to be sent to the National Revenue Authority.
Ibrahim Sorie maintained that all payment will be given a computerized and securitized receipt that is authentic and NRA will also embark on a spot visit of all hotels and guest houses to ascertain their compliance to the NRA laws.
He strictly warned hotel and guest house owners to comply with NRA or else they will face severe consequences of the law, and a transparent and accountable method has been put in place to ensure that monies collected are judiciously utilized.
He also promised to distribute NRA guide lines to all registered hotel and guest houses to avoid customer embarrassment and threatened to close down or auction properties owned by hotels and guest houses for failing to pay NRA taxes. By Saidu Bah