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Court dismisses school appeal to escape TRA levy

Court dismisses school appeal to escape TRA levy

THE Hellenic Foundation of Tanzania Limited, which trades as ST. Constantine’s International School is to pay substantial Skills and Development Levy (SDL) to the Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) it has defaulted for years of income 2013 through 2017.

This follows the decision of the Court of Appeal to dismiss the appeal under which, the appellant company, a corporate body engaged in providing education to the public, had lodged to challenge the findings of the Tax Revenue Appeals Tribunal (Tribunal).

“We find nothing to fault the decision of the Tribunal. Consequently, we dismiss the appeal in its entirety with costs,” declared a panel comprising Justices Gerald Ndika, Lugano Mwandambo and Lucia Kairo in favour of the TRA, the respondent in the appeal.

During the hearing of the appeal, the appellant counsel had contended that the Tribunal erred in both law and fact by holding that his client is not a charitable organization in terms of section 19 (2) of the Vocational Education and Training Act, regardless of admission by TRA in the pleadings to the contrary.

He stated that the Tribunal erred in law in holding that the appellant is liable for the payment of Skills and Development Levy on the basis of an assumption that the respondent had conducted due diligence without any proof and without any pleading on that regard.

The appellant further stated that having held that there was no procedure for conducting due diligence on his status in respect of chargeability of SDL and having held that there was no proof that due diligence was conducted, the Tribunal erred by holding that he is liable to pay such levy.

In the judgment delivered recently, however, the justices of the appeals court were mindful of the principle that parties are bound by their own pleadings as reiterated in many cases, including that of Pauline Samson Ndawavya.

However, the justices could not agree that by noting the appel- lant’s averments in the statements of appeal, the respondent admitted that he was exempted from paying SDL. “We think that by noting (such) contents, the respondent did not dispute the appellant’s assertions that it was a registered international school providing nursery, primary and secondary education; that the appellant was a registered charitable organization and its business was for the public good,” they said.

The justices also noted that in the replies to the statements of appeal, the respondent pleaded that the appellant was liable to pay SDL, an averment which crucially negated any impression that the TRA admitted the claimed exemption from SDL.

On whether the appellant was liable to pay SDL as assessed by the respondent, they went through some provisions of the VETAAct and noted that for a charitable organization to be so treated for the purpose of SDL exemption, the condition set out under section 19(2)oftheVETAActhastobe satisfied.

“We have found no evidence in the record of appeal proving that the appellant met the condition. Thus, (the appellant’s counsel) argument that the appellant was subjected to pay SDL based on the uncertain or ambiguous provision of the law, holds no water,” the justices said.

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Author: By DAILY NEWS Reporter

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