Sri Lankan taxpayers too afraid of tax collectors to complain about mistreatment

Jan 15 (LBO) – Sri Lankan tax payers are too afraid of retaliation by tax collectors to complain about mistreatment.

Sri Lanka appointed a tax ombudsman in September 2005 to mediate between the Department of Inland Revenue and the island’s small number of tax payers, as a way of easing strained relations.

However the tax ombudsman only collected 28 official complaints against the Inland Revenue by end 2005 and another six in January 2006.

The complaints must come in writing to be counted. People have been complaining over the phone but they are too scared to send them in writing, said tax ombudsman M P Paranagama.

They are scared because they must still go through the tax assessors after making a complaint and they are worried there might be some repercussion, said Paranagama.

The tax ombudsman reports at least five verbal complaints that did not materialise in writing.

News of an Inland Revenue official demanding gratification also reached the tax mediator’s ear but again went no further, because of retaliation fears.

Some of the cases that came to the ombudsma