Six members of the Tax Appeals Tribunal were yesterday sworn in at the Supreme Court.

And Supreme Court judge Evans Hamaundu has urged the sworn members of the tribunal to speedily, independently and professionally resolve taxation disputes between taxpayers and the Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA).

The tribunal is chaired by Fraiser Chishimba.

Others sworn in include; Dumisani Tembo, Enius Chulu, George Nonde, Glenda Mazakaza, Milangu Kampata and the tribunal’s registrar Yihemba Chirwa.

Delivering his speech during the swearing in ceremony at the Supreme Court building yesterday, justice Hamaundu said he was elated to have had the honour of swearing-in the members of the Tax Appeals Tribunal (TAT).

He urged the sworn-in members to speedily, independently and professionally resolve taxation disputes between taxpayers and ZRA.

“It is common knowledge that your Tribunal (the Tax Appeals Tribunal) is a statutory creation under The Tax Appeals Tribunal Act, No. 1 of 2015. It is a continuation of the Revenue Appeals Tribunal which existed under the Revenue Appeals Tribunal Act, No. 11 of 1998. As you are already aware, your mandate is to resolve disputes between taxpayers and the Government revenue collector, the Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA). You are required to speedily, independently and professionally resolve taxation disputes arising from assessments of Income Tax, Customs & Excise Tax, Property Transfer Tax, Value Added Tax and under any other tax law,” he said.

“Being a quasi-judicial body, you are basically a “specialised court” of first instance in Tax disputes. Therefore, you are mandated to ensure that we have a just society where taxes are fairly assessed, willingly paid and disputes independently and impartially resolved within a short time, as we all know that Government operations largely depend on taxes.”

Justice Hamaundu reminded them that their task was not easy but added that he had no doubt that they were equal to the task.

“Yours is not an easy task as often times tax issues are spikey. However, I have no doubt that you are equal to the task, looking at the past achievements your Tribunal has scored which have resulted into jurisprudence in tax disputes being developed and your decisions are now more predictable to the parties. This has translated into a drastic reduction in the number of cases involving tax disputes that end up in the Court system,” he said.

Justice Hamaundu, however, hoped the tribunal would soon decentralise their operations to reach other towns in the country.

He observed that currently, their operations were confined to Lusaka when over 50 percent of their cases came from outside the province.

“It is my hope that you will soon decentralise your operations to reach out other towns in the country as I understand that currently your operations are more or less confined to Lusaka even when over 50 percent of your cases come from outside Lusaka. This can in the short term be achieved by your Tribunal conducting circuit sittings so that you are more accessible to all tax payers who may not have easy means to come to Lusaka,” he said.

Justice Hamaundu further hoped that the tribunal would do more sensitisations on their existence.

He encouraged the members to continue with any training programmes aimed at improving their skills.

“I encourage you to continue with any training programmes aimed at improving your skills so that the quality of your decisions can keep enhancing. There is no substitute for well-reasoned rulings, as good decisions inspire confidence in not only the taxpayer but also the Zambia Revenue Authority; and they will be more willing to come to the Tribunal for dispute resolution. This invariably translates into greater investor confidence and improved tax compliance in our Country,” said Justice Hamaundu.

“May I emphasise that in the continuous discharge of your duties, you should continue upholding the values of integrity, objectivity, impartiality and efficiency, as these are cornerstones of any reputable justice system.”