Letters to the Editor | Sunday Observer

Letters to the Editor

 Plight of taxpayers

The Department of Inland Revenue introduced a high tech system called RAMIS installation a few years ago. It is full of defects and cannot accommodate to set off overpayment of taxes against taxes due even after establishing overpayment.

For example, there is no facility to set off the overpayment against the under payment of the previous month.

With the introduction of RAMIS, the Department has woken up and has gone back to the 1990s and has amassed millions of outstanding or default taxes. This has been the case with many clients and taxpayers and corporate entities. Taxpayers cannot imagines from where the Assistant Commissioners, Deputy Commissioners, Commissioners, Senior Commissioners have found these default taxes. Tax officers seem to have kept the records of these outstanding taxes without informing the tax payers.

1. Taxpayers in the past - individual and corporate - visited tax department regularly to meet Assessors.

2. How is it that taxes are outstanding for over 25 years. Some taxes are shown as outstanding for over 10 years, 15 years and 20 years.

3. Assessors handle a file for a few years and hand it over to another. On many occasions, though the Department’s computer system showed Assessment Notices issued, but in real. not sent to the taxpayers or companies.

4. Assessors agreed to feed the computer system with adjustments. Some of these have never happened.

5. The procedure is that when an Assessment Notice has been issued, it gives either 30 days or 60 days to appeal or to raise objections. If no action has been taken by the tax payer, a red notice follows threatening legal action within a stipulated period.

6. If that is the case, how could these taxes have been outstanding for more than 20 years?

7. How many years is a tax payer supposed to keep records? Once it was for seven years, again it was eight years and then became 10 years.

8. These long outstanding default taxes do not appear in some Interim Default Tax notices.

9. Any taxpayer hardly keeps accounting books and records for over 15 years or 20 years.

10. Is is ethical to send Default Tax Notices after 10, 15, 20 years or 25 years?

11. Many taxpayers are affected by this. Taxpayers, when threatened with legal action, try to pay outstandings by mortgaging their properties and other assets without checking whether the figures are correct.

12.Most past officers have not done their jobs properly. Otherwise, these huge amounts would not have accumulated over the years. The lack of staff is not taxpayers’ problem. Ultimately, the tax payers have to suffer. Company representatives and individuals will have to hang around at the Tax Department for days without attending to any business.

13. Taxpayers have no confidence in the Tax Department. Officials keep harassing taxpayers.

14. The Tax Department’s VAT Scandal involving two tax officers was the largest Public Fraud in Asia. The loss of the fraud was Rs. 5,000 million.

15. A taxpayer cannot agree to figures assessed by an assessor and forced on the taxpayer in an audit hurriedly and hastily done to meet deadlines. If an audit has not been carried out, it is not the tax payer’s fault.

16. Taxpayers are also frustrated that the taxes do not go into the well-being of the country. 17. One major hassle of the RAMIS is if a buyer claims a VAT input in his VAT return and if by chance, the supplier either purposely or by mistake does not include the VAT element as output VAT in his VAT return, the RAMIS will reject the buyer’s claim for input VAT after comparison. What can the buyer do?

18. We are paying VAT twice. First to the supplier and secondly to the department with the penalty when it is disallowed, just because of the supplier’s mistake or cheating.

19. Appeals are piling up at the Department and one cannot imagine how and when the Department is going to cope up with the situation. Most officers do not know where to send the taxpayer to sort things out.

Can the Commissioner General of Inland Revenue explain to the public why such long outstanding taxes are appearing and not reflected in Default Tax notices sent earlier?

Anton Kumar,

UK’s call to abolish death penalty

The UK has nothing else to do but interfere in the affairs of other countries which are saddled with problems, especially, in countries, such as ours where values are deteriorating at an unprecedented speed because the death penalty was not in force.

There was a time when Lee Kwan Yew was to make Singapore just like Sri Lanka because there was no better country to live in than here. While he set about doing what he envisaged was best for Singapore, Sri Lanka abolished the death penalty, much to the detriment of law and order.

President Maithripala Sirisena has been lauded for taking a decision to reintroduce the Death Sentence for murderers and drug traffickers.

For they are a law unto themselves, there must be some influential backing. Did the public ever witness the Opposition sinking their differences with the Government teams together to fight this menace? The Opposition is not in the least concerned to team up with the Government and demonstrate to what extent it is concerned to eliminate this menace. What is most alarming is the fact that we have never witnessed the Opposition, putting aside their differences, comes together on a common platform to fight a deserving cause. Among their party cadres, they have Professors, Lawyers, Doctors and sons of past politicians who sound so vociferous on political platforms swearing allegiance to people who are in need and yet are drifting away from them.

The UK Minister of State for Asia and the Pacific, Mark Field, has said that “the UK and EU call on all countries, including Sri Lanka, to abolish the death penalty.” Every country has its legitimate right to do what is best for its people, and no country, no matter how powerful it is, has the right to dictate terms to another country on what it should be doing. The UK Minister of State for Asia and the Pacific has no right to interfere in what Sri Lankans believe in.

There is a Judiciary in the country and the accused will be sentenced only if found guilty. Until then, every accused is considered innocent. If they are found guilty, is it not fair to give them the punishment they deserve?

A concerned citizen

Regulatory mechanism for three-wheelers

Three-wheeler drivers have taken the law into their hands. They do not care about customer service or customer satisfaction. They dictate terms to customers. When you argue with them, they will ask you to get out and pay the amount. Passengers are harassed and insulted. There is no place to complain.

Three-wheeler drivers should issue a receipt to the passenger when requested. This is not happening.

There are no electronic fare meters in many three-wheelers. Some have meters, but not functioning. Some three-wheelers have speakers generating a big noise which is a nuisance to passengers.

Three-wheelers are used for criminal activities. This shows the need to have a regulatory mechanism for three-wheelers. Tourists are often cheated by three-wheeler drivers. Some drivers harass female passengers. Studies by traffic analysts have revealed that there is a serious impact on the lane discipline by three-wheeler drivers. Studies also showed that about 350 fatal accidents are related to three wheelers.

There are about 1.2 million theree-wheelers on the roads.

We request the Consumer Affairs Authority and the National Council for Road Safety to take corrective action.

D. Weeratunga,