By Byron Mutingwende
The Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) has urged citizens to contribute in the national revenue by voluntarily complying to pay taxes. In his remarks during a media training workshop held at the Rainbow Towers Hotel in Harare on Wednesday, Happias Kuzvinzwa, ZIMRA Acting Director-General said that it was important for citizens to religiously pay taxes.
“We all agree that it is not good for taxpayers to play cat and mouse games with the Authority or catch me if you can. The advice is soon or later the arm of the law will catch up with any tax evader and smuggler. ZIMRA is, therefore, determined to promote a culture of voluntary compliance and disclosure on tax matters by the Zimbabwean taxpayers,” Kuzvinzwa said.
He said that paying taxes is an investment for living in a civilised society with social services adequately funded. Among the key social services funded by tax are health, education, peace and security.
In that regard, he implore taxpayers to observe the tax payment dates for VAT, PAYE and Corporate Tax and to pay it in full and on time.
“Paying taxes is also a measure of the level of patriotism for a tax paying person has to his own country. Voluntary declaration for one’s income for tax purposes is there for obligatory. This reduces unnecessary business costs, which come in the form of penalties and interest that are levied for late payments or late submission of returns, or failure to submit returns or remit payment.
“The Media fraternity and ZIMRA together have a role to encourage citizens to demand tax invoices when they make purchases of goods and services and to remind the business fraternity to remit all taxes due in full and on time. The business community on the other hand is to be encouraged to conduct business with suppliers of goods and services that are tax compliant,” Kuzvinzwa said.
In its quest to be a beacon of excellence in the provision of fiscal services and facilitation of trade and travel, ZIMRA is implementing several initiatives towards that goal.
Minister of finance and Economic Development, Patrick Chinamasa, in his 2017 budget statement announced the granting of a six months’ special dispensation with effect from 1 January 2017 for Small to Medium Enterprises to voluntarily approach ZIMRA and register for VAT purposes.
The SMEs were urged to take advantage of that window of opportunity to register with no questions asked and no retrospective collection of taxes that were due. The deadline for the dispensation is 30 June 2017.
The other initiative undertaken by ZIMRA is the addressing Base Erosion and Profit Shifting, which refers to tax avoidance strategies. A programme to capacitate the tax man to deal with the Base Erosion and Profit Shifting challenge has been put in place and is now bearing fruit.
The Authority continues to engage companies which owe Taxes, Customs and Excise Duties and to the majority of debtors payment plans to liquidate their debts have been agreed upon.
“It is important to note that ZIMRA places garnishee orders as a last resort and this is in instances where taxpayers fail to cooperate with the Authority in meeting its tax obligation or breaching the agreed payment plan. It has been observed that tax debt consists in the main non-remittance of VAT and PAYE which would have been paid or accrued to the tax payer in the course of the business in the tax period. It should be noted that VAT and PAYE do not constitute an income to the business and should not be accounted as such,” Kuzvinzwa said.
ZIMRA has also put in place several initiatives to deal with the ease of doing business. Fiscalisation – focusing on VAT registered operators has been extended to cover all VAT registered operators in categories A, B, C and D. The Minister of Finance and Economic Development has also extended invitations to suppliers of fiscal gadgets to improve the availability and affordability of the devices. The ongoing exercise to connect the fiscal devices to the ZIMRA server is expected to enhance the Authority’s monitoring efforts by enabling real-time submission of transaction data.
In addition, the e-services portal which ZIMRA deployed in 2015 has also brought considerable convenience to clients as they can apply for Tax Clearance Certificates online and carry out other ZIMRA-related processes remotely. With the facility, clients can make online applications for Business Partner Numbers, and submit tax returns online.
To curb transit fraud and illegal dumping of goods on the local market, the Electronic Transit Cargo Tracking System is under pilot and will be rolled out in the month of March 2016.
Concerns were raised over the way ZIMRA allowed the importation of foodstuffs banned under Statutory Instrument (SI) 64 of 2016 but the tax collector urged cooperation between it and the citizens in curbing corruption.
The Acting Commissioner for Customs and Excise, Adrian Swarres said that ZIMRA was committed to providing quality service to its stakeholders and customers mainly through implementing the quality policy in line with its vision, values and strategic commitments, as well as observing ethical business practices and strict customer confidentiality by complying to legal requirements.
The Acting Commissioner for Domestic Taxes, Regina Chinamasa said that taxation is important as it provides the necessary funding for the country’s development.