The New Excise Tax Proclamation No. 1186/2012: A Compliance Overview

 

The House of Peoples Representatives has approved the infamous Excise Tax Proclamation (The Proclamation) last Thursday, February 13, 2020. Within hours from the approval of the proclamation, Ministry of Revenues have written a letter to manufacturers of excisable goods stating that the proclamation will be implemented starting from February 14, 2020, which in effect violates both the FDRE Constitution and Negarit Gazeta Establishment Proclamation. The proclamation has not yet been published in the Negarit Gazeta and there are notorious discrepancies between the Amharic and English versions. In addition, with no transition time given to the manufacturers, they are forced to prepare manual invoices, which separately shows the amount of excise tax payable in the transaction as the new law requires the amount of excise tax should be separately shown in the invoice.

Setting aside all these problems occurring due to the panic moves of the government, the Proclamation has introduced fundamental changes to the existing excise tax framework and the market has already felt the punch of these changes within few days of its implementation. In this brief overview, some of the major changes introduced to the Excise Tax Regime will be assessed.

 

1. Imposition of Excise Tax on Excisable Goods

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Burden of Proof in Tax Disputes: Ethiopia  

 

Introduction

Burden of proof in tax disputes could rest either on the tax payer or on the tax authority or sometimes both could bear the burden of proof. For instance under the United States and Canadian tax laws the primary burden of producing an adequate evidence to rebut the assessment or decision of the tax authority rests on the tax payer. On the other hand countries like Sweden, Netherlands and Spain in their tax laws share the burden of proof in tax disputes between the tax payer and the tax authority. Hence in these counties the burden of proof in tax disputes is shared between the litigating parties.  As such the tax inspector must deduce evidence for a profit adjustment and on the other the tax payer must substantiate an exemption or deduction alleged. To the contrary tax laws in Denmark, France and Finland locate the burden of proving the accuracy of the tax decisions made according to estimation on the tax authority.  Similarly in Hungary the tax authority is obliged to prove the bad faith of the tax payer when prohibiting the deduction on VAT. This shows that there are possibilities where by tax authorities could bear the burden of proof in tax disputes.

 

In Ethiopian context when tax disputes arise the first venue to visit by the tax payer is the tax review committee structured with in the tax authority. Its role is just to give recommendation to the tax authority. The next body available for aggrieved tax payers is the federal tax appeal commission, found outside of the tax authority and enjoys a relative autonomy and independence. Then the federal high court comes to picture at this point as a next step available for aggrieved tax payers.  Up to this point the ordinary court of the country does not involve itself in tax disputes. 

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ሐሰተኛ ደረሰኝ - ገቢዎች ሚኒስቴር እራሱ በድሎ እራሱ አለቀሰ !

 

 

 

 

“In the Judgment alone is to be found the law in its living form”

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A Brief Note on Ethiopia’s Tax Privileges to ease the Impact of Covid-19

 

 

The outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic has brought overall economic, political and social crisis in most parts of the world including Ethiopia. Although there are criticisms on their effectiveness, the government of Ethiopia has been taking measures to ease the economic impact of COVID-19 on the business entities operating in the country. Earlier on the month of April, a protocol was issued by the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs cited as the COVID-19 Workplace Response Protocol, which regulates the relationship between employees and employees during the COVID-19 pandemic. This protocol was a subject of criticisms due to its silence on the obligation and role of the government in sharing the burdens of employers.  

Apart from the protocol, the Council of Ministers has passed a decision earlier this month to cancel tax arrears of the previous tax years to ease the impact of the pandemic on taxpayers. Based on this decision, Ministry of Finance has issued a directive on May 04, 2020 to implement the decision of the Council of Ministers. The directive issued by the Ministry of Finance can be cited as a Tax relief directive No. 64/2012 to ease the economic damage of COVID-19 Pandemic on taxpayers (the Directive). The Directive has brought some significant relief schemes to taxpayers struggling to pay taxes for previous tax years.

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PROBLEMS WITH THE ‘GENEROUS DIRECTIVE’: DIRECTIVE REMITTING TAX LIABILITIES TO REDUCE DAMAGE CAUSED BY COVID-19 ON TAXPAYERS

 

Introduction

 

Part of the Ethiopian government’s actions to reduce Covid-19’s effect on the economy is the recently issued directive to remit tax liabilities of taxpayers number 64/2020 (the “Directive”). This directive was issued by the Ministry of Finance pursuant to the mandate bestowed to it by the Federal Tax Administration Proclamation Number 983/2016. The purpose of the directive is to reduce the damage caused by Covid-19 on taxpayers. And, the tax liabilities subject to remission are tax liabilities of before and during 2018.

 

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የተሻረው እና አዲሱ የኤክሳይዝ ታክስ አዋጅ ድንጋጌዎች ንጽጽር በተለይም በጨው ምርት ላይ

 

 

መግቢያ

በሀገራችን የኤክሳይዝ ታክስን በተመለከተ በሥራ ላይ የነበረው አዋጅ ቁጥር 307/2002 (እንደተሻሻለ) ተሽሮ በአዲስ የኤክሳይዝ አዋጅ ቁጥር 1186/2020 የተተካ ስለመሆኑ ይታወቃል፡፡ በመሆኑም ይህ ጽሁፍ ሁለቱ አዋጆች የኤክሳይዝ ታክስ የተጣለባቸው ዕቃዎችን፤ ታክሱን የመክፈል ግዴታን እና ታክሱ ስለሚሰላበት ስሌትን በተመለከተ ያስቀመጡትን ድንጋጌዎች ከጨው ምርት ጋር በተያያዘ በወፍ በረር ለማነጻጽር ነው፡፡

 

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በመመሪያ ቁጥር 67/2013 በጨው ላይ የሰፈረውን ድንጋጌ ከኤክሳይዝ ታክስ አዋጅ ቁጥር 1186/2011 አንጻር የተደረገ አጭር ዳሰሳ

 

መግቢያ

አዲሱ የኤክሳይዝ ታክስ አዋጅ ቁጥር 1186/2012 እየተሰራበት መሆኑ ይታወቃል፡፡ ይህንን አዋጅ ለማስፈጸም የኢፌዴሪ የገንዘብ ሚኒስቴር ስለኤክሳይዝ ታክስ አዋጅ አፈፃፀም መመሪያ ቁጥር 67/2013 ጸድቆ ከጥቅምት 6 ቀን 2013 ዓ.ም ጀምሮ በሥራ ላይ ይገኛል፡፡ በመሆኑም የዚህ ጽሁፍ ዓላማ በመመሪያው አንቀጽ 38 ላይ በጨው ላይ የሚከፈል የኤክሳይዝ ታክስን በተመለከተ የሰፈረውን ድንጋጌ ከአዋጁ አጠቃላይ ይዘትና መንፈስ አንጻር በጥቂቱ ለመዳሰስ ነው፡፡

 

1. በጨው ምርትና ግብይት ላይ ወሳኝ ባለድርሻ አካላት

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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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