Sri Lanka tax office clearing tarnished reputation, says official

Sept 21, 2007 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s tax department is slowly regaining its reputation which had been tarnished by a tax scam and complaints of bullying tax payers, the island’s top Treasury official said Friday. “The image of the Inland Revenue Department is changing from being 100 percent bad to being slightly positive,” Treasury Secretary P.B. Jayasundera said.

The government was revamping the department to prevent frauds that had earned it a bad name and to make it more tax-payer friendly, he told a meeting of the Inland Revenue Staff Officers Association.

He was referring to a multi-billion-rupee fraud in value added tax refunds in which senior tax department officials were involved.

The fraud became a huge scandal at the time it was revealed and some of the businessmen involved are believed to have fled abroad.

Jayasundera said the tax department had a critical role in raising the required revenue for the government but should do so without becoming a nuisance to the tax payers.

Complaints of harassment by tax officials have become common in the island with many businessmen complaining that the department was making life difficult for genuine tax payers.

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