I am a famous artist in Tanzania and held very high in society. Some years ago, like most other businessmen, I had an issue with the TRA which I resolved but after a heavy battle. I continue to pay my instalments but recently have been told that names of those who have committed a tax offence are to be published in newspapers. Is that possible as I have never seen such an advert? Is this not defamatory?
It is true that the Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) is vested with such power under section 97(1) of the Tax Administration Act (TAA). The section provides that the Commissioner General of TRA may publish in a newspaper or any media of wide circulation within the United Republic a list of persons who have repeatedly failed to pay tax on time after being notified of their obligation to pay tax by the Commissioner General; have been convicted of an offence under a tax law, where the time for appeal has expired; or have repeatedly committed such an offence compounded under section 92 of the TAA.
Further, 97(2) of the TAA provides that such a list of persons under subsection (1) may specify the name and address of the person; the offence committed, the period during which the offence occurred, the amount of tax involved, particulars of any fine or sentence imposed.
Such powers are vested in the TRA and cannot amount to defamation. Having said the above, we have thus far not seen any such names being published. The TRA have been resolving a good number of cases amicably and with an intent of assisting businesses thrust forward. Your tax consultant can guide you further.