LRA Wins US$19m Tax Case Against Lonestar

The Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) has won a US$19.2 million tax case against the Lonestar Cell/MTN following more than two years of legal battle.

Tax Court Judge Mozart Chesson ruled in the case on Wednesday, September 16, 2015 at the Temple of Justice on Capitol Hill, following final legal battle in the case three weeks ago.

One of the three major GSM companies in the country, the court’s ruling compels Lonestar Cell/MTN to pay the taxes into government’s coffers.

The case was taken to the tax court after both the LRA and Lonestar rejected the decision of the Board of Tax Appeal (BOTA) which ruled that the company pays US$1.9milion.

The LRA insisted that US$19.2m was due from the company, while Lonestar further rejected the BOTA’s ruling claiming it owed no taxes. BOTA had no authority to adjust the statutory ddition(penalties and interest) to a tax bill.

In its ruling Wednesday, the Tax Court declared that Lonestar was held to pay the amount because it failed to follow and exhaust the appeal process and did not take appeal when it was served the notice for payment at the then Ministry of Finance.

“We are happy for this ruling; especially to reach this far in two-and-a-half year,” stated Cllr. Eric B. Morlu, Legal Counsellor at the LRA. Meanwhile, Lonestar Cell/MTN has taken an appeal to the Supreme Court of Liberia.

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