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Q&A – 24 July 2017

Tax revenue appeals board

We had objected to an assessment by the Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) and the matter is now at the Tax Revenue Appeals Board (TRAB). TRA is trying to prove that we are supposed to pay some colossal amount of tax. How does the TRAB work and what should we be doing?
OG, Dar

We are sure that prior to filing your objection and subsequently the appeal, you as the appellant would have been guided on how the procedure works. Nonetheless we will repeat it here. First and foremost it is not TRA that has to prove what they have assessed but you to disprove the assessment.

The Proceedings of the TRAB are under the Tax Revenue Appeals Act which states that proceedings shall be of judicial nature and be conducted on such occasions and at places as the Chairman may direct. In every proceedings before the Board and before the Tribunal, (a) the appellant shall appear either in person or by his duly authorised agent on the day and at the time fixed for hearing of the appeal (b) the onus of proving that the assessment or decision in respect of which an appeal is preferred is excessive or erroneous shall be on the appellant; (c) the appellate authority may confirm, reduce, increase or annul the assessment concerned or make such other orders thereon as it may think fit; (d) the costs of the appeal shall be in the discretion of the appellate authority; (e) the appellate authority shall, within fifteen days of its decision, cause a notice of such decision and of the date thereof to be issued and such notice shall be served on the parties to the appeal; (f) where the decision of the appellate authority results in any amendment to an assessment, the assessment shall be amended accordingly and the Commissioner-General shall cause a notice setting out such amendment and the amount of tax payable to be served on the person assessed.

The Board may also call any person to attend at a hearing and give evidence including the production of any document if the Board believes such evidence will assist in its deliberations. Your tax consultant can guide you further.

Sale of matrimonial land by widow

Our father died and was survived with 3 children and a wife who is our step mother. After his death our step mother remarried another man with whom she is staying with todate. She has secretly sold the house we have lived in since our childhood and the buyer is now forcing us to pay rent or give vacant possession of the house. The house was jointly bought by our father and the said step mother. Are we not entitled to stay in the house? Please assist- we have nowhere to go.
DF, Morogoro

If the house was bought as joint tenants between your late father and step mother, the law is clear that the entire house belongs to the other surviving joint tenant, who is your step mother who is entitled to do what she wants with the house. Had the house been bought under a tenancy in common, then your father and stepmother would have shares in the house and your fathers share would pass to his heirs under his Will.

Unfortunately for you in a joint tenancy the entire house goes to the other surviving joint tenant. We recommend you double check whether the house was bought as a joint tenancy or tenancy in common and consult your attorney thereafter.

Wife trespassing on my property

I was married for nearly 10 years before I left my wife as life was hell with her around me. I left her and the children in my house whose right of occupancy is in my name. We have been separated but not divorced and I need her to vacate my house as I am in need of funds and wish to rent it out. I politely asked her to leave because she is trespassing on my property but she has refused. I want to take legal action against her. Can I evict her by force?
OO, Dar

The Law of Marriage Act of Tanzania states that where any estate or interest in the matrimonial home is owned by the husband or by the wife and that husband or wife, deserts his or her spouse, the deserted spouse shall not be liable to be evicted from the matrimonial home by or at the instance of the husband or the wife who left. You can see from the above that the law is strict and you cannot evict your wife. Further to that, you are not divorced and in the eyes of the law you are still husband and wife; the house is hence still regarded as a matrimonial home and she has a right to live there. The division of matrimonial properties can be done if either of you petition for divorce.

However be advised that even though the house is in your name, there is no guarantee that you will retain it in its entirety as under the law the wife is deemed to contribute in building of the matrimonial home simply by doing domestic chores and entitled to a certain percentage of the house. Also looking at this from the Court’s perspective, your wife is taking care of your children and it is very unlikely that the Court will sympathise with you.

Your situation is quite delicate and you need to consult your attorney.

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