BURS gets P78m tax claim

BURS Headquarters PIC: MORERI SEJAKGOMO
BURS Headquarters PIC: MORERI SEJAKGOMO

Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS) has retained the P78m tax amount it had imposed against a local security company, Prevailing Securities. BURS initially lost the claim at the High Court following a judicial review filed by the company’s judicial manager, Danny Guduli.

The lower court judge at the time allowed the review of the tax claim after agreeing with the judicial manager that BURS acted in bad faith by imposing a re-assessment and penalties solely based on the bank statements of the company. But now the Court of Appeal justices, Isaac Lesetedi, Justice Daniel Brand and Acting Court of Appeal Justice Lot Moroka in a judgement read out by Justice Lesetedi said the tax agency was right to demand claim because the security company did not allege that there was any fundamental irregularity in the procedure followed in the assessment but the reason was that there had been a long delay by the commissioner dealing with the objection to the tax assessment. “Had that been the case of irregularity, the judicial manager would not have challenged the tax assessment by way of an objection to the commissioner under the tax legislation but would have filed an application for judicial review at that stage,” he said.

Justice Lesetedi explained that there was no doubt that the commissioner indeed took a long time to consider the objections lodged by the judicial manager and that the answer from the commissioner to the applicant’s concern was that she had a lot of other tax assessment objections before her which she had to deal with. He pointed out that there was no evidence before the lower court upon which the reasonableness of that explanation could be tested, let alone disputed. Justice Lesetedi emphasised that it was for the High Court to establish if the security company had exceptional circumstances for it to intervene by a way of judicial review when the decision being sought for review was itself subject to a pending objection. That also include when less radical remedies like an order to compel the commissioner to deal with and determine the objection one way or the other was available to unblock the delay in the utilisation of domestic remedies. “In my view this was a case in which the judicial manager had already chosen to utilise the domestic remedies available and by doing so he acknowledged that was where his remedy lays,” he said.

Editor's Comment
A step in the right direction

That is indeed a welcome development, especially looking at the fact that the manual way of doing things is slowly disappearing and competency in the use of computers and other digital gadgets has become a must.The simple way of looking at it is just an example that almost all companies have gone completely digital and school leavers will be better placed after leaving school, because they will already be familiar with the use of computers.The...

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