New body formed to address tax complaints

DAR ES SALAAM: THE government has established the Tax Ombudsman Service Tanzania (TOST), an independent body that will handle taxpayers’ complaints.

TOST’s main responsibility is to oversee the tax administration process, ensuring fairness in tax assessment and promoting taxpayers’ compliance.

As an independent body, TOST will receive accurate and unbiased information and complaints from taxpayers regarding tax administration.

Its primary focus will be on addressing corruption, arbitrary tax assessments, unlawful business closures, and similar grievances.

During a recent meeting with editors and journalists in Dar es Salaam, TOST Tax Ombudsman Mr Robert Manyama explained that the establishment of TOST will help reduce tax cases in court by resolving disputes amicably.

This, in turn, will boost taxpayers’ confidence in the tax administration system and improve tax compliance, said Mr Manyama.

Mr Manyama emphasised the importance of transparency, efficiency and simplicity in handling complaints to maintain a positive relationship between taxpayers and the tax authority.

TOST will act as a neutral forum for mediating disputes with impartiality and fairness. It will handle complaints related to the taxpayer charter, clients’ bill of rights and allegations of maladministration in the procedural services administered by the Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA).

Mr Manyama urged taxpayers to utilise TOST’s services and avoid pursuing legal procedures, which can be time-consuming and costly. TOST aims to resolve complaints within 30 days from the filing date.

Businessman Mr Beda Ambrose from Dar es Salaam expressed optimism about TOST, stating that it could be a saviour for businesspeople if it operates fairly and delivers justice.

In the past, tax disputes in Tanzania were handled in an adversarial manner, without providing parties the opportunity to settle their differences amicably.

The only option was to appeal to higher courts, resulting in unresolved disputes that accumulated interest over the years, burdening taxpayers.

However, with the introduction of the Finance Act, 2021, tax disputes can now be settled through mediation at the Tax Revenue Appeals Board  (TRAB) and the Tax Revenue Appeals Tribunal (TRAT). Parties involved in a dispute have the right to apply for mediation under this Act.

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