Thirteen cocoa Licensed Buying Companies (LBCs) have sued the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) for its decision to charge them value added tax (VAT) on trucking and haulage of cocoa beans for the Ghana Cocoa Board (Cocobod). Joined to the suit filed at the Accra Commercial Court on Monday, November 25 by the lawyer for the LBCs, Charles Tettey, are the Commissioner General of the GRA, Cocobod and its chief executive officer. According to the LBCs, they have for 24 years been exempted from paying VAT until this year when the GRA demanded that they register to pay VAT, something they have described as illegal. They argued that the GRA has been auditing their books for purposes of assessing them for taxes other than VAT, has never ever questioned, requested and or demanded that they register and pay VAT. In their view, any VAT engagements should be directed at Cocobod because the GRA and its commissioner “have all along known” that LBCs “merely act as carrying agents” for Cocobod. Haulage and trucking have traditionally not been part of their core business, the said, adding it was Cocobod which asked them to undertake that task on its behalf. Quoting section 35 and section 3 of the first Schedule of Act 870 as amended, the LBCs held that their activities, particularly trucking and haulage are integral to the supply of raw cocoa to the Cocobod, and inextricable from the supply process. As such, the LBCs argued that the trucking and haulage of cocoa by their members are exempted from Value Added Tax. The GRA, they said, has shown an intention to subject them to VAT payment from the period commencing from 2014 to date. They claim that unless the GRA and its Commissioner General “are specifically restrained by the court, “they will continue with their acts of harassment with the risk to totally collapsing” LBCs. In their view, they are being “targeted, ostensibly because they are the weaker partners” of Cocobod. “The conduct of the GRA and its Commissioner General is tainted with unreasonableness, arbitrariness, capriciousness and illegality,” the LBCs contended in the writ. The GRA and its Commissioner General by their consistent conduct of never having audited, assessed, valued or charged LBCs for VAT, “have entrenched this legitimate expectation of the Plaintiffs and other LBCs”. “It is the plaintiffs’ case that this legitimate expectation is an accrued right, which had purposely and deliberately been led by the GRA to cultivate; therefore, the same is (and should be) protected by Law, Equity and fairness,” the argued.