Over the last two days, Councillors and senior management of the Freetown City Council (FCC) had day-long trainings on the appeals process of the Council’s Property Tax and Business Licence Reform. The training exercises – which took place on Thursday for senior management and Friday for Councillors, provided the opportunity for Councillors and management to think through and give their input on the appeals process that is being set up for the new property rate and business license process.
FCC recently completed the geo-mapping of all properties (both residential and commercial) in Freetown, with funding from DfID. The exercise saw the increase in the number of properties in FCC’s official database from about 50,000 to approximately 160,0000.
With this increase, many property owners will receive a demand notice for the first time. Since the Local Government Act of 2004 does not mention guidance on residents appealing their property tax and business license fees, provides little guidance on FCC has the need to establish basic principles and procedures to give residents that opportunity.
FCC is setting up a system where residents can contact the Council if they have any questions or queries around the property tax and business license payments. Such queries could include how their property tax and business license fees were calculated, what payment options are available to them, what the deadline for payment is and any tax exemptions or relief.
FCC considers the appeal process as key to maintaining transparency and fairness in the calculation of property tax and business license fees. It is also key to encouraging taxpayers to participate in the tax payment process as they understand exactly what they are paying for.
The training was led by our partners from International Growth Center and International Center for Tax and Development, who have been leading on the tax reform process.