Q&A – 18 December 2017

Threats by TRA

We were assessed for a colossal amount of tax by the Tanzania Revenue Authority. I gather that there is tax non-compliance in the market which TRA is curbing but we are a very compliant foreign company listed in a foreign stock exchange. The assessment was unreasonable yet when we objected we paid the 1/3 deposit as required by law. The objection was decided against us and we filed an appeal to the Tax Revenue Appeals Board, which we are informed has no members and hence not functional with no hearing taking place. TRA recently stormed into our offices with the police and other officers demanding we pay up the remaining 2/3 otherwise we face penal sanctions including imprisonment of directors and managers. This special force went to the extent of taking our key accountants to the police. My question is what is this special force and can I be forced to pay tax that is still under dispute which matter is waiting for hearing at the Tax Board? In my 30 years in Tanzania I have never experienced such behaviour by a tax authority. What are my rights?
TU, Kilimanjaro

You have rightly stated that there is some serious non-compliance in the market that the TRA is addressing especially related to tax evasion having formed some task forces to address this. These tax forces are not above the law and are administrative machinery to assist collect taxes and curb tax evasion.

In your case, since you have paid the 1/3, and the matter is still in the dispute resolution machinery established by the Tax Revenue Appeals Act, we are unable to find a provision under which the TRA can demand the 2/3, unless of course you have not disclosed the full extent of the matter. Had you lost the case at the Board or the Tribunal, that would be a different scenario.

If you are continued to be threatened, you have a right to file for a stay of execution at the Board, unfortunately which is not functional. Alternatively, you can file for Judicial Review and/or a stay of execution at the High Court, where the TRA might challenge the Courts jurisdiction. However before doing so, we suggest you engage with the TRA managers in your region, and refer them to the TRA Taxpayers Charter and the fact that you have already paid the 1/3 deposit amount pending determination of your matter.

International convention on death penalty

Tanzania has signed various international conventions against the death penalty but has yet to implement these. If that is the case and as a convict on death row, can I exercise my rights as this should be the law?
MH, Dar

The Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty is a side agreement to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. It was created on 15 December 1989 and entered into force on 11 July 1991. As of December2017, this Optional Protocol has 85 states that have signed it, Tanzania is not one of them.

It is true that the Optional Protocol commits its members to the abolition of the death penalty within their borders, though Article 2.1 allows parties to make a reservation allowing execution “in time of war pursuant to a conviction for a most serious crime of a military nature committed during wartime”. Since Tanzania has not signed this protocol, the death penalty is still in force in Tanzania.

However in practice over the last 14 years no President has signed any death warrant hence no executions have taken place in the recent past.

Police refuses to identify himself

I was asked to give my particulars to a police officer who was extremely aggressive with me without any reason. The more I tried to be polite the more aggressive the officer became demanding that he sees my ID card. Before giving him my ID, I requested that I see his badge or ID or that he gives me some form of identification. He said his uniform was enough. I was taken to the station and remanded without being questioned but released by another officer the next day who was kind enough to apologise. Don’t I have a right to also question a police officer?
FG, Mtwara

You have the right to ask the police his name, rank and place of duty and it is mandatory for the police officer to give you such details. Section 46 of the Criminal Procedure Act (CPA) states the following: (1) Where a police officer believes on reasonable grounds that a person whose name and address is unknown to him may be able to assist him in his inquiries in connection with an offence that has been, may have been. or may be committed, the police officer may request the person to furnish to him his name and address. (2) Where a police officer requests a person, under sub-section (1), to furnish his name and address and informs the person of his reason for the request, the person(a) shall not refuse or fail to comply with the request; (b) shall not furnish to the police officer a name or address that is false in any material particular; and (c) may request the police officer to furnish to him his name, rank and ordinary place of duty. (3) Where a police officer who makes a request of a person under subsection (1) is requested by the person, pursuant to sub-section (2) (c) to furnish to the person his name, rank, and place of duty the police officer shall not refuse or fail to comply with the request.

Further, when you are under restraint, you must be told under section 53 of the CPA, in a language which you are fluent in, that you are under restraint and the offence in respect of which you are under restraint. This section also states that you must be cautioned that you are not obliged to answer any questions except giving your name and address, and that you have a right to communicate with a relative, friend or lawyer, unless the officer believes that by allowing such access an accomplice might escape or it may lead to the loss, destruction or fabrication of evidence related to the offence.