An Introduction to the Ethiopian Law of Tax Foreclosure: A Commentary

The Ethiopian law of tax enforcement experienced a drastic change following the tax reforms of the 2002. Introduction of self-executing tax enforcement mechanisms was among the grand shifts in the country’s tax system. Previously, the only means of ensuring prompt and certain collection of delinquent taxes was through the time taking judicial proceeding. The disapproved judicial means of enforcing delinquent taxes is now replaced by a self-executing enforcement scheme called ‘tax foreclosure.

Tax foreclosure is by and large an out of court means of recovering delinquent taxes by seizing and selling the asset of delinquent taxpayers’ property. It involves a series of legally inscribed condition precedents that need to be followed in the foreclosure processes. In this article, an attempt is made to closely look at the legal regime governing tax foreclosure in Ethiopia.

Owing to its novelty in the Ethiopian tax system, this article seeks to shed light on the rules governing the foreclosure processes in Ethiopia slightly informed by comparative law. In this respect, the US practice is selected on account of considerable commonalities with the Ethiopian law of tax enforcement.

The very fact that tax foreclosure is a self-executing enforcement scheme could also be a legitimate reason to write about it as both the judge and the enforcer is the tax authority. Undoubtedly, there might be some interest of taxpayers that may be mishandled in the course of foreclosure processes. In this context, the article will draw attention to some lacunas in the foreclosure rules that might be areas of concern. The other aim of this article is to question the constitutionality of tax foreclosure in Ethiopia with respect to some constitutional rights of taxpayers. Since the practice of foreclosing delinquent taxpayer’s property is yet undeveloped, the article is unfortunate to review the implementation of the tax foreclosure regime on the ground.

Accordingly, the article is categorized into five sections. The first section is an introductory part that introduces the various forms of foreclosure followed by a brief discussion on the meaning and nature of tax foreclosure in the second section. In the third section, it will discuss the series of procedures that are involved in tax foreclosure proceedings. The Last section of the article will endeavor to test the constitutionality of the tax foreclosure regime. Finally, a brief conclusion and recommendations will ensue.

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ለግብር ከፋይነት የሂሳብ መዝገብ ስለመያዝ እና ገቢን ስለማስታወቅ

የሂሳብ መዝገብ ስለመያዝ

የሂሳብ መዝገብ መያዝ ለመልካም የንግድ አሠራር ሥርዓት በጣም ጠቃሚና ከማንኛውም ግብር ከፋይ የሚጠበቅ፤ የንግድ አሠራር ሥርዓቱም የሚጠይቀው በመሆኑ በንግድ ሥራ ውስጥ ያለ አብይ ተግባር ሲሆን ለግብር አሰባሰብና አስተዳደር አመቺ እንዲሆን ከደረጃ ‘ሐ’ ግብር ከፋዮች ማለትም የቁርጥ ግብር ከሚከፍሉት በስተቀር ማንኛውም በንግድ ሥራ ላይ የተሠማራ ወይም የሚከራዩ ህንፃዎች ባለቤት የሆነ ሰው የሂሳብ መዝገቦችንና ሰነዶችን የመያዝ ግዴታ እንዳለበት በገቢ ግብር አዋጅ ቁጥር 286/1994 አንቀጽ 48 ላይ በግልጽ ተደንግጓል።

ይህም ማለት ግብር ከፋዮች ተጨባጭ ወደሆነ የግብርና ታክስ አወሳሰንና አሰባሰብ ስርዓት እንዲሸጋገሩ ለማድረግ አዋጁና ይሄንኑ ለማስፈጸም የወጣው ደንብ የሂሳብ መግለጫዎችና ደጋፊ ሰነዶችን  የደረጃ "ሀ " እና የደረጃ "ለ"  ግብር ከፋዮች ከደረጃ "ሐ" ከተመደቡት የቁርጥ ግብር ከፋዮች የተሻለ የንግድ እንቅስቃሴና ዓመታዊ ሽያጭ እንደሚኖራቸው ታሳቢ በማድረግ ተቀባይነት ያገኘውን የሂሳብ አያያዝ መርህን መሰረት  በማድረግ ዓመታዊ ሽያጫቸው ከብር አንድ መቶ ሺህ ያለበለጠ የደረጃ "ሐ" ግብር ከፋዮች በስተቀር ዓመታዊ ሽያጫቸው ከብር አምስት መቶ ሺህ በላይ የሆኑት የደረጃ "ሀ" ግብር ከፋዮች እና ዓመታዊ ሽያጫቸው እስከ ብር አምስት መቶ ሺህ የሚደርስ የደረጃ "ለ" ግብር ከፋዮች የሂሳብ መዛግብቶችና ሰነዶችን እንዲይዙ ኃላፊነት ጥሎባቸዋል፡፡ የደረጃ "ሐ" ግብር ከፋዮችም ቢሆኑ ምንም እንኳን መዝገብ የመያዝ ግዴታ ባይጣልባቸውም ለግብርና ታክስ አወሳሰን፤ የገቢያቸውን ልክ ለማወቅና ትርፍና ኪሳራቸውን ለመገንዘብ ያስችላቸው ዘንድ የሂሳብ መዝገብ ቢይዙ ተቀባይነት ያለው አሰራር ይሆናል፡፡

የግብር ከፋዮች የሂሳብ መዝገብ አያያዝ የሂሳብ መዝገብ አያያዝ መርሆዎችን መሰረት ያደረገና በግብር ባለሥልጣኑ ዘንድ ተቀባይነት ያለው አያያዝ ሆኖ:

·   የደረጃ "ሀ "ግብር ከፋዮች በየዓመቱ መጨረሻ ላይ የዓመቱን የዕዳና ሀብት መግለጫ እንድሁም የትርፍና ኪሣራ መግለጫ፤ ያልተጣራውን ትርፍ የተሰላበትን የሂሳብ አሰራር ዘዴ የሚያሳይ ሰነድ፤ የሥራ ማስኬጃና የአስተዳደር ወጪን የሚያሳይ ሰነድ፤ ስለእርጅና ቅናሽ የሚያሳይ ሰነድ እና ሌሎች ደጋፊ የሆኑ ሰነዶችን በመያዝ ለ10 ዓመታት ጠብቀው የማቆየት ግዴታ ሲኖርባቸው ከተከፋይ ሂሳብ ላይ ግብር ቀንሰው የሚያስቀሩ ድርጅቶች /withhold Ajents/ ደግሞ የሂሳብ መዝገብና ደጋፊ ሠነድ በመያዝ ለ5 ዓመታት ጠብቀው የማቆየት ግዴታ ተጥሎባቸዋል፡፡

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ግብር ስወራ

 

በዚህ ጽሑፍ ስለ ግብር ስወራ ምንነት፣ በተለያዩ የግብር ዓይነቶች ሥር የግብር ስወራ ስለሚያቋቋሙ ድርጊቶች፣ ለግብር ስወራ መነሻ ሊሆኑ ስለሚችሉ ምክንያቶች እንዲሁም የመከላከያ መንገዶቹ ለመዳሰስ እሞክራለሁ፡፡ ይህንን ጽሑፍ ለመጻፍ መነሻ የሆነኝ የፌደራል መጀመሪያ ደረጃ ፍርድ ቤት የጉምሩክና ታክስ ወንጀል ችሎት ዳኛ ሆኜ ስሠራ በነበርኩበት ጊዜ የኢትዮጵያ ገቢዎችና ጉምሩክ ባለሥልጣን ለግብር ስወራ የወንጀል ክሶች ለማስረዳት ሲያቀርባቸው በነበሩ የታክስ ኦዲቶች ላይ የሚጠቀሱ ግኝቶች ናቸው፡፡ የተለያዩ የግብር ስወራ ወንጀሎች ፈጽመዋል በማለት ተከሰው በፍርድ ቤት ሲቀርቡ ለነበሩ ተከሳሾች ይቀርብ የነበረው ማስረጃ፣ በታክስ ኦዲተሮች የሚሠራ የታክስ ኦዲት ግኝቶች ዝርዝር የሚገልጽ የጽሑፍ ማስረጃ እንዲሁም ይህንኑ የታክስ ኦዲት የሠሩ ባለሙያዎች በሙያ ምስክርነት ቀርበው የሚሰጡት የምስክርነት ቃል በዋናነት የሚጠቀሱ ናቸው፡፡

በኢትዮጵያ ገቢዎችና ጉምሩክ ባለሥልጣን የሚሠሩ የታክስ ኦዲቶች አንዳንዶቹ በትክክል የግብር ስወራ ስለመፈጸሙ በአግባቡ የሚያስረዱ ሲሆን፣ አንዳንዶቹ ደግሞ በጣም የተጋነኑ፣ ሙያዊ ላልሆነ ግምት የተጋለጡ እንዲሁም ለወንጀል ክስ የማስረዳት ብቃታችው ምክንያታዊ የሆነ እርግጠኝነት የማይፈጥሩ ናቸው፡፡ ግብር ስወራ በአገር ኢኮኖሚ ላይ አሉታዊ ተፅዕኖ የሚፈጥር የዕድገት ፀር የሆነ ሕገወጥ ድርጊት በመሆኑ፣ መንግሥትም ሆነ ሁሉም ኅብረተሰብ ሊከላከለው የሚገባ ድርጊት ነው፡፡ ነገር ግን ግብር ያልከፈሉ ሁሉ ግብር ሰውረዋል ማለት አይደለም፡፡ ምክንያቱም ግብር ላለመከፈል መነሻው ግብር መሰወር ብቻ ላይሆን ይችላል፡፡

በሌላ በኩል ግብር ሳይከፈል የቀረው መክፈል የነበረበት ሰው ለመክፈል አቅም በማጣቱ ወይም መከፈል የሚገባው የግብር መጠን ሳይከፈል የቀረው ጥፋት በሌለበት ስህተት (Genuine error) ምክንያት ሊፈጠር ይችላል፡፡ ግብር ስወራ የሚመለከተው ደግሞ በስህተት ምክንያት ወይም አቅም በማጣት የታወቀ የግብር ግዴታ ሳይከፈል ለሚቀር ግብር ሳይሆን ሆነ ተብሎና እያወቁ የተለያዩ የማታለያ፣ የተንኮልና አሳሳች ነገሮች በመፈጸም ሊከፈል የሚገባ የግብር መጠን እንዲሰወር የሚያደርግ ሕገወጥ አካሄድን ነው፡፡

በአገራችን ግብር አለመክፈል የሚያስከትለው የወንጀልና የፍትሐ ብሔር ኃላፊነት በተመለከተ ያለው አሠራር ሲታይ ከሕጉ ጋር የተጣጣመ ነው ለማለት የሚያስቸግር ይመስለኛል፡፡ ምክንያቱም በመጀመሪያ ግብር አለመክፈል በወንጀልና በፍትሐ ብሔር እንዲሁም በፍትሐ ብሔር ብቻ የሚያስጠይቅባቸው ሁኔታዎች ለየብቻ ተለይቶ ሲሠራበት አይታይም፡፡ በዚህም ግብር የመሰወር ድርጊት የፈጸመ ግብር ከፋይ በወንጀልና በፍትሐ ብሔር ሊጠየቅ ሲገባው የፍትሐ ብሔራዊ ኃላፊነቱ ከተወጣ ጤነኛ ባልሆኑ አካሄዶች እንዲሁም በግብር ሰብሳቢው መሥሪያ ቤት ፈጻሚዎች የግንዛቤ እጥረት ምክንያት የወንጀል ክስ የማይቀርብባቸው ትክክለኛ ያልሆኑ አሠራሮች አሉ፡፡

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Justification of Excise Tax in General

 

Excise taxes are an example of what have been traditionally called indirect taxes: taxes that are imposed on a transaction rather than directly on a person or corporation. Excise taxes are narrow-based taxes, as compared with broad-based taxes on consumption such as a general sales tax, a value-added tax, or an expenditure tax. Excise taxes can be collected at various stages, including the point of production, the wholesale level, or the retail level. They are also known as selective sales taxes or differential commodity taxes.

Excise taxes are levied on either a unit or ad valorem basis. For unit (also known as specific) excises, the tax is denominated in terms of money per physical unit produced or sold. Examples include the federal government taxes of 18.4 cents per gallon of gasoline, $13.50 per gallon of distilled spirits, and $3.10 per domestic flight segment for passenger airline travel. Ad valorem excises are based on a percentage of the value of the product or service sold. The 7.5 percent federal tax on the cost of domestic airline passenger tickets and the 3 percent tax on the cost of telephone services are examples of ad valorem taxes.

Broader-based taxes, such as the income and general sales taxes, are difficult to administer when most of the economic activity takes place outside a structured market setting. Excise taxes are sometimes used as a means of implementing an ability-to-pay approach to taxation. So-called luxury taxes are an example of this approach.1 The United States currently levies an excise tax on expensive passenger vehicles. This tax is set at 10 percent of the value in excess of a floor amount of $30,000. The tax on high-value automobiles has also been explained as a means of making foreign imports (which comprise a large percentage of such vehicles) more expensive than domestic Automobiles. By taxing items consumed disproportionately by higher-income individuals, excise taxes can achieve an element of progressivity. There are questions, however, concerning horizontal equity because not all people at the same income level have similar expenditure patterns for luxury items.  Excises are also levied on goods or services that are considered harmful or undesirable, in an Attempt to discourage consumption. Taxes based on this rationale are labeled sumptuary excises.  Examples include taxes on alcoholic beverages, tobacco products, and wagering. Because many of the goods and services taxed by sumptuary excises have relatively inelastic demands, these taxes May have only a limited impact on curtailing consumption. This presents an added benefit, however, for the government in that it provides a relatively stable source of tax revenue. Sumptuary Taxes are often popular politically because many citizens do not engage in the taxed activities, whereas purchasers of the taxed items do so voluntarily. Such taxes may have negative consequences from the standpoint of vertical equity because sumptuary excises are often highly regressive. Excises may also be imposed as a technique for dealing with negative externalities. This is related in some ways to the sumptuary excises. Taxes on “gas guzzling” automobiles and gasoline can be explained as a kind of Pigouvian (corrective) tax to reduce the divergence of the private and social costs relating to pollution or congestion. Such taxes are usually an imperfect technique for internalizing externalities, because an efficient Pigouvian tax should be related to the marginal damage caused by an activity, which is not necessarily proportional to the level of consumption.

Finally, excise taxes may be employed as a means of implementing a benefits-received approach to taxation. Gasoline taxes are an example. Gasoline usage is closely related to highway travel, thereby providing a link between taxes paid and benefits received from roadways. This link is further strengthened by earmarking where the revenues collected from an excise tax are designated for use in providing government services related to the activity. Examples include the earmarking of motor fuel taxes for highways and taxes on airline tickets for air traffic control and facilities expansion.  

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Tax Evasion under Ethiopian Tax Laws - Conceptual Introduction

INTRODUCTION

Taxation is as old as history of early state formation. As tax remains essential source of public finance, states used to collect taxes for public funding. Apart from its extant condemnation by modern governments, one can strongly argue that tax evasion remains persistent challenge from the very inception of state. Nowadays, following the advancement of public finance the concept of tax evasion get emphasis by tax scholars. It is now condemned and categorized as anti-social behaviors as well as criminal act.

What is tax evasion then?

 Even though it’s helpful to provide conventional definition of tax evasion, as the concept more of relies on the tax laws that regulate it, which is territorial and jurisdictional by nature, providing universal definition at the outset remains a challenge. However based on definitions given to the term in different legal systems if not universal, one can come up with comprehended definitions of the therm. To come up with few, the United States revenue service sector (IRC), defines tax evasion under section 7201,-“as willful attempts in any manner to evade or defeat any tax or the payment thereof”.

The definition given above by IRC clearly depict any intentional attempt to defeat assessment of true tax liabilities which in turn end in tax Deficiency(evasion of assessment) and non-payment of tax due and owing(evasion of payment)as tax evasion. Among others a comprehensive definition of tax evasion was given by Canadian department of national revenues-as-

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Why Churches are not taxed

 

I am inspired to share this idea and bring to discussion, after hearing Christian leaders took the rare step on Sunday (25/3/2018) of closing Jerusalem’s church of the holy sepulcher in protest at Israeli tax measures and a proposed property law. Accordingly, for further discussion and research insight I raise issues related with why churches are tax exempted? What are the rationales and what about in Ethiopia?  

Taxation is a governmental assessment upon property value transaction, estates of the deceased, licenses granting a right and/or income and duties on imports from foreign countries. It includes all contributions imported by the government upon individuals for the service of the state.

Generally taxes are divided into two broad categories as direct and indirect. Direct taxes are those assessed against income, land or real property, and personal property, which are paid directly to the government. Indirect taxes are assessed against articles of consumptions, such as products or services, but collected by an intermediary such as a retailer.

Tax and religious institutions

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የልዩ ምርመራ ኦዲት ግኝቶችና የወንጀል ውጤታቸው

 

 

“I CAN’T DEFINE TAX EVASION, BUT I KNOW IT WHEN I SEE IT.”

— FRED T. GOLDBERG JR.

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የታክስ ይግባኝ ኮሚሽን እና የአዲስ አበባና ድሬዳዋ ከተሞች ራስን በራስ የማስተዳደር መብት

 

የፌዴራል ታክስ አስተዳደር አዋጅ ቁጥር 983/2008 እራስን በራስ የማስተዳደር መብትን ከአዲስ አበባ እና ከድሬዳዋ ከተሞች ላይ የገፈፈ ስለመሆኑ እና የመፍትሔ አቅጣጫዎቹ፡፡  

እራስን በራስ የማስተዳደር መብት የፌዴራል ሥርዓትን በሚከተሉ አገሮች የተለመደ አሰራር ሲሆን በዋናነትም ክልሎች ወይም ራስ ገዝ አስተዳድሮች ከፌዴራል መንግስቱ ተፅእኖ ውጪ የራሳቸው ሕግ አውጪ፤ ሕግ ተርጓሚ (የዳኝነት አካል) እንዲሁም የህግ አስፈፃሚ አካላት ኖሯቸው በcheck and balance መርህ ክልላቸውን ወይም አካባቢያቸውን የሚያስተዳድሩበት ቁልፍ ቃል-ኪዳናቸው ነው፡፡

ይህ እራስን በራስ የማስተዳደር መብት በኢትዮጵያ ሕገ መንግስት አንቀፅ 39(3) ለኢትዮጵያ ብሄር፤ ብሄረተሰቦች፤ ሕዝቦች የሰጠ እንዲሁም በአንቀፅ 49(2) ላይ ደግሞ የአዲስ አበባ ከተማ አስተዳደር እራሱን በራሱ የማስተዳደር ሙሉ ስልጣን እንዳለው የሚደነግግ  ሲሆን በአንፃሩ የድሬዳዋ አስተዳደር ግን ይሄን መብት ሕገ-መንግስቱ እንደነፈገው የሚታወቅ ግልፅ ሐቅ ነው፡፡

በመሆኑም የዚህ ጽሑፍ ዋናው ትኩረት ከዳኝነት አካላት ውስጥ አንዱ ከሆነው የድሬዳዋ  እና የአዲስ አበባ ከተማ መስተዳድሮች የግብር ይግባኝ ሰሚ ጉባኤን የዳኝነት ስልጣን ከሕገ-መንግስቱ (እራስን በራስ ከማስተዳደር መብት ለአዲስ አበባ ከተማ ከተሰጠ መብት አንፃር)፤ ከፌዴራል ታክስ አስተዳደር አዋጁ እና ከተሞቹ ከሚመሩባቸው አዋጆች አንፃር ያሉ የሕግ ጉዳዮችን/ችግሮችን በንፅፅር በወፍ በረር በመዳሰስ የመፍትሔ አቅጣጫዎችን ማመላከት ነው፡፡   

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Bank deposit method of proving Tax Evasion: the current litigation heresies

 

INTRODUCTION

Tax evasion is proscribed as crime under Art 125 of Federal Tax administration proclamation no-983/20081. Under this article, the law proscribes transgressions such as understatement of income (evasion of assessment), failure to file tax return with intent to evade tax and evasion of payment as offenses of tax evasion. To proof tax evasion, prosecutors must proof the existence of all ingredients of the offence, namely intent to defraud, affirmative act and evaded tax. Amongst ingredients of crime of tax evasion, the existence or otherwise of evaded tax is a typical one. To identify the nature and amount of evaded tax, one should make use of evidence. We can prove tax evasion both by direct and indirect evidences.

Proof is the establishment or refutation of an alleged fact by evidence. It’s the evidence or argument that compels the mind to accept an assertion as true. In its judicial sense; it encompasses everything that may be adduced at a trial, within the legal rules, for the purpose of producing a conviction in the mind of judge. Evidence is a thing (including testimony, documents and tangible objects) that tends to prove or disprove the existence of an alleged fact.

As indicated above, Tax evasion can be proved both by direct and indirect method of proof. This can be done by auditor which then appears in court of law as an expert witness.

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