The National Revenue Authority (NRA) has engaged owners of private educational institutions on the payment of taxes.
Speaking at the Santanno House in Freetown, NRA Commissioner-General Alieu Sesay said that, the Income Tax Act 2000 makes provision for persons and organizations to pay taxes to the Authority either, daily, monthly, quarterly or yearly.
He added that, the challenges of the government are huge and that they need to raise money to meet and finance these challenges.
Sesay maintained that it is important for owners of private educational institutions to understand exactly what the provisions are and at the same time for them to comply with the Income Tax Act of 2000; by paying their 10% withholding tax from monies paid to contractors or landlords and paying their Pay as You Earn (PAYE) taxes for their staffs.
The Commissioner-General noted that, “I do agree there are differences in terns of quality education between private and public schools, but the bottom line is pay your tax as and when it is due”.
He lamented that it is our obligation to support government by paying our taxes when it is due; noting that, if a tax payer or institution fails to comply there are consequences to face.
He called on them to pay their taxes regularly so that their institutions would not be closed for breaching the Income Tax Act.
In his address the Deputy Commissioner of Income Tax, Ibrahim Sorie Kamara, said that NRA has been mandated to go into people’s business premises and confiscate their assets and possibly put them on public auction if they fail to honor their tax obligations.
He pointed out that the Authority also had the right to instruct bankers to freeze the bank accounts of those found culpable and also publish their names on gazettes, newspapers, radio and television stations; and also prevent people from traveling in and out of the Country, from clearing goods at the quay and renewal of business licenses.
He stressed that the owners must submit an estimate of turn over; including chargeable income and statement of revenue of proceeds for the year.
He maintained that owners can adjust their estimates upwards and downwards according to the revenue obtained.
The Deputy Commissioner also stated that, if owners fail to acquaint themselves with correct information and proper records concerning the revenue of their institutions, they may face the consequences as it is mandated by law.
PAYE, he said is compulsory and must be paid whether or not an institution makes profit or loss, adding that it is uncompromising.
Kamara urged them to adhere to their obligations and pay their taxes at the stipulated time.
Some of the owners raised concern that some of their institutions are in the infant stage; and as such they are not making huge profits at the moment and that they are not receiving subventions from the government.
Some of them disclosed that a good numbers of pupils enrolled in their schools are not paying their fees and as such these have been accounted as bad debts.
They appealed for a reduction of taxes and also recommended that government grant them subventions to help them run their schools.
By Abibatu Kamara