Govt demands cash from churches

HARARE - Zimbabwe’s cash-strapped government, which has failed to come up with a budget has now become desperate and is moving in to tax churches and non-governmental organisations, the Daily News has been told.

With millions of people turning to Christianity in the last few years, government is said to be looking at ways to make churches prime targets for taxation.

The Daily News was yesterday told that so bad is the cash situation in government that Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) officials were yesterday visiting churches making inquiries about their sources of income and seeking information on people who make donations.

Zimbabwe’s tax agency plans to visit  all local churches and non-governmental organisations as part of an investigation into tax evasion.

At the time of going to press yesterday, Taungana Ndoro, the Zimra chief of corporate communications had not responded to questions  sent to his office on the planned crackdown on churches. 

But officials said Pentecostal churches, who draw huge crowds to their congregations every week, were prime targets of the raids by  customs agents seeking to collect money from the churches which operate as charity organisations.

Government obligations and deficits have continued to escalate, pushing the Zanu PF government into desperate measures.

President Robert Mugabe’s administration has responded to the economic crisis, characterised by an enormous burden on the State’s already strained budget, by targeting churches for a shakedown.

The move could significantly hike churches’ tax liabilities amid accusations by the tax collector that churches were funnelling funds abroad.

Since elections on July 31, Mugabe’s government has cracked down on capital flight and tax evasion in a bid to shore up government finances.

The crackdown on churches could have been torched by Tourism minister Walter Mzembi who recently suggested that churches should be taxed but he appeared to backtrack on the issue suggesting that he could have been misquoted.

Zimbabwe has missed the third-quarter budget revenue targets as economic growth cooled down, with mineral royalties tumbling, underlining the formidable task government faces  to shore up the economy.

Mining royalties — one of Zimbabwe’s key revenue heads — took a knock in the quarter to September 2013, slumping 39 percent to $39 million due to depreciating international mineral prices.

During the period under review, tax collector Zimra targeted to collect $63,7 million in mining royalties.

Given the intensifying budget difficulty, government is hell-bent on moving in on churches for taxation, top government officials said.

Zimbabwe’s Income Tax legislation exempts from taxation, ecclesiastical institutions of a public character and this covers the receipts and accruals of religious organisations.

But like all employers, religious organisations are required to register with Zimra as an employer and Pay As You Earn (PAYE) should be withheld from remuneration accruing to employees.

The remuneration includes the pastor’s stipend and other benefits like housing and motoring benefits.

The crackdown will target records in respect of remuneration, with churches risking liability for payment of the outstanding PAYE, penalties and interest.

More importantly, government will be targeting buildings leased by religious organisations.

The law says where rental income is received from a lessee who is an informal trader in respect of residential accommodation, premises or a place on which trade is carried on, the organisation is required to withhold an Informal Traders’ Presumptive Tax equal to 10 percent of the rental.

This withheld amount should be remitted to the Zimra within 30 days from the date of such withholding.

Failure to recover or remit the Presumptive Tax renders the church itself liable for the payment of the outstanding Presumptive Tax, interest and penalties.

Government will also be targeting religious organisations which enter into contracts for the supply of goods or services resulting in an obligation to pay amounts totalling $250 or more.

At least 10 percent of the total invoice value should be deducted and remitted to Zimra, unless the payee furnishes a valid tax clearance certificate confirming that their tax position is satisfactory.

The tax man will also be closely looking at rebate of duty on goods imported for religious purposes.

The dragnet will also look at the importation of second-hand or used motor vehicles for churches.

The Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe has said its members will comply with the proposal to tax profit-making activities by churches.

EFZ’s general secretary, Reverend Lindani Dube, said while churches were ready to comply with the government’s proposals, it should not be forgotten that income-generating activities by churches helped the institutions sustain themselves.

“As law-abiding citizens, I think it would be good practice to comply with progressive business regulations in the country, particularly in clearly defined spheres such as profit-making ventures. Consideration, however, should be made considering that churches are spiritual and social institutions that give to their communities,” he said.

Comments (98)

Nice move, Gershom Pasi. The first port of call should be at Uebert Angel's doorstep. The guy has been claiming to be so rich that his wealth exceeds $60 000 000. Check the source of the wealth and see if tax has been paid at every level. My own guess is that the fellow has not submitted any tax returns to the nearest tax office, if he has done so, the returns are most likely doctored. Batai munhu!

Boorangoma - 14 November 2013

Isu vekuMasowe hapana chamunowana, kkkkkk

Rodger Confirm - 14 November 2013

Pastors watch out; you have been using the word of God to make money! You do not need money to preach the word of God. Pay for your sins! kkkkkk

gonzo - 14 November 2013

Churches should concentrate on spiritual growth not material growth like they are doing now. The pastors are greedy and getting it very wrong. Nearly all churches are now preaching the word of money and therefore all profit making, the government must chase this with vigour. The Bible teaches us to love thy brother but we are taught to love and give God whom we have never seen. Makirisitu do not know what real worshipping is all about.

farai - 14 November 2013

Give to Ceasar what belongs to Ceasar! ipai zvaKesari kunaKesari!

gringo - 14 November 2013

good move, this wil also expose the rot in churches, they exploit their workers in the name of volunteers, pay tax rich fellows of the cloth, give ceaser what belongs to him

fay - 14 November 2013

Give to Ceasar what belongs to Ceasar! ipai zvaKesari kunaKesari!

gringo - 14 November 2013

Give to Ceasar what belongs to Ceasar! ipai zvaKesari kunaKesari!

gringo - 14 November 2013

The moment you step up and tax churches you must do so to all churches kunyange vanopindira pasi pemuti hapana anosara, But this move of taxes churches will bring a curse in this country because churches are not profit making organizations and they are involved in charity work, Open your spiritual eyes and see....!

Munya - 14 November 2013

It is a deep concern to try and sephon money from the very people who keep the country covered against all spiritual attacks on the nation. All Government officials looking at this FOOLISH beware. God does not take lightly your messing with His servants. God's favour on his messengers is His favour. The above comments know nothing of God's Kingdom and as such should not comment on what is above their spiritual understanding. You mess with the church, you mess with God. Beware GOD IS WATCHING. When His wrath comes upon you, no man or spiritual ancestor can help you. Government thus stay away from Churches, that is God's property.

Prophet Ishmael - 14 November 2013

How desperate can we get! Tongai tione!!!

Peter - 14 November 2013

My prayers have been answered. Tax these false prophets because they are doing business with God's word.

jurist - 14 November 2013

where did such a move happen, you merely think church money will change the economic of zimbabwe, this is just a joke. these decisions will completely destroy this country from God's favour. ndokushaya zvekuita manje hakuna zvakadaro mu history, a church is a NGO nherera dzirikuchengetwa gvt yacho inozovachengeta here. this desperate decision should be analysed with caution, otherwise hapana zvatinenge taita. the church must pray for the country, look at England's economy flourishing, why ? they actually give money to the church as a form of seeding and God is making their economy stable. its a principle which has to be followed. ndokuda kubira Mwari manje kwakuda kuita. zvine verse ipi izvi???????

Joseph - 14 November 2013

Taxes bring down governments and catastrophes to nations especially if they are targeting God's money. You are playing with fire! Someone needs to pay heed and ask churches for Divine intervention for the nation's economic woes. How will God justify corruption, deceit and all sorts of ills perpetrated by government officials to further squeeze the life out of His God-fearing children? Those who abuse God's money have to answer before Ultimate Judge; let us not the their judges, as saith the scriptures. A nation that fears God prospers.

Realist - 14 November 2013

Diamonds money iripi since January.According to Chinamasa not a single cent went to treasury from January kkkkkk

chakachaya - 14 November 2013

Please read the article and understand.The tax being targetted is PAYEE for salaries,tax on other incomes like rentals and presumptive tax from persons or companies supplying goods to churches.I guess churches are obliged to remit such taxes.

PMK - 14 November 2013

Govnt watch out. the curse of God is waiting for you if you do this. Zimbabwe is where it is now not because of its govt but because of the church.

chimuti - 14 November 2013

Jurist handize kuti munamato waurikuti wapindurwa wainamata kunani? ndava Mwari wandinoziva haasapote nyaya dzako idzi. vaporofita venhema unovaziva kana kuti wakuita godo wo zvako, kunyange tikati ndizvo koo vako vaunoziva vechokwadi? Mwari haana kupusa zvakadaro zvekuti anobatanidzira mainnocents in this case. he is a God of justice muchinda and faithful. manje hazviitike ndava Mwari wedu haatenderi matakanana aya

JOZE - 14 November 2013

JOZE this is sweet music to my ears. Those idiots must be taxed. They are syphoning innocent people of their monies. I know what i'm talking about and I know who the targets are. If you are doing business with God's word then you must be taxed. SIMPLE

jurist - 14 November 2013

Please gvt be advised not temper around with churches. Find better ways, stop it forthwith, dont attempt, this country would be cursed. where in the world has that happened? We know most of you, you underestimate the power of the almighty, its better to steal than kutora mari yemundiro.

babavasviri - 14 November 2013

Ko Kunonga ari kupi iye zvino,usatambe namwari iwe Gesham.

bizozi vekranko - 14 November 2013

That's where the money is- Great move by Government.

jurist - 14 November 2013

Its over due the church steal from the poor by threatening them with hell. They must pay taxes church leaders reap a lot of dollars when they work one day a week

Innocent Chokureva - 14 November 2013

During election time Zanu PF were telling people that they have a plan to rescure the country from the problems which were created by the Government of National Unity, are these some of the plans which they were referring to. It goes to show that these people are now stuck after stealing the vote. How much are they going to collect and is the money going to help even pay some the salary increases for the Evil servants??? I think the best thing right now is for Zanu Pf to go back to MDC and reforn the government of national unity so the benefit of the people. Last week they were busy destroying peoples houses, this week they want to collect tax from the churches. This is all rubbish they must come up with solutions for the country. Last month they spoke about helping the so called farmers but upto now nothing has been forth coming and it means the planting season will go by without the Govenrment assisting. If it comes to buy cars for the useless MP's this will be given top priority. This Government is full of devils, they stole the election and like somebody said "ngavachitongaka tione". These people are clueless and evil.

Asekuru - 14 November 2013

hero makandiwa and his side kick fake angel..

mzexman - 14 November 2013

Asekuru you are still in election mode. Hazvife zvakaitika zvamuri kubvotomoka izvo.

jurist - 14 November 2013

Why would government want to tax churches? These are non profit organisations and if the guys have failed to run the country now they are looking at ways to make more money for their lavish lifestyles at the expense of the churches.

Cde Chinodhuukadhuuka Zoraunye - 14 November 2013

YOU MUST SMELL A RAT WHEN YOU SEE A POLITICIAN COMING TO CHURCH TO THE POINT REMOVING HIS SUIT TO PUT ON A GARMENT AT YOUR SHRINE. YOU CANT TRUST THESE POLITICAL LEADERS LOOK AT WHAT THEY ARE SUGGESTING SOON AFTER VOTING FOR THEM? CHURCHES WAKE UP AND DISCERN WHO REALLY LOVES YOU AND THOSE WHO ONLY WANT TO BENEFIT FROM YOU. THOSE WHO DINE WITH THE PRESIDENT ASK HIM WHY?

Blessed - 14 November 2013

Uku ndiko kunonzi kuitaya manje kwamavakuita imi veZanu. DHIABHOROSI NYOKA chaiye.

Kufakwangu Zvarova - 14 November 2013

That's a poor strategy of fund raising, try and find other ways.otherwise God will punish our land.

Asekuru - 14 November 2013

musatamba nezvisizvo vakomana. yapererwa nedzimwe nzira here hurumende yedu. mapurisa haasikuunza mari yatiriuvapa pasina mhosva everyday. musatambe nezvamwari.

Webikita weharurwa - 14 November 2013

zvakasara izvozvo varume tambai nezvimwe.

makauziwa - 14 November 2013

ZIMBABWE MWARI NGAATI BATSIRE

TIRI - 14 November 2013

In America churches pay tax.

analyst - 14 November 2013

In America churches pay tax.

analyst - 14 November 2013

musataba naMWARI vakomana

onisimo - 14 November 2013

With the charity work some of theses churches are doing if you tax them will they be able to do the wonderful charity works there are doing? Will the government remember theses orphans & needy people? lets not look for a curse upon our country from God,think first people before making some of your comments may God have mercy on us,look at countries like U.K & U.S.A where the government support churches no wonder way there are rich countries & look how poor we're in our country & we want churches to be taxed & out of theses churches do you think you will get money to sustain the country? God will curse the country

Nguga - 14 November 2013

Taxing tithing (God's offering) will bring curses. It may not be rational to do so because it is effectively diverting funds for God's work to other uses.

Dexter - 14 November 2013

icho

Johannes Kwangwari - 14 November 2013

Hama dzangu verengai article iyi munzwisise chirungu. Hanzi kana Cathedral yepana 4th ika haisa hall yavo, vanobhadhara tax from the revenue realised. Kana Roma ikatenga stationary from a supplier asina tax clearance vanobata 10percent withholding tax. Kana Roma ine ma employees, vashandi ivavo vano fanira kubhadhara payee semunhu wese. i see a lot of people are worried kuti Zimra will tax offerings ne zvegumi zvenyu. Kwete, thats not the cash. Verengai chirungu munzwisise hama

Mwana-Wa-Mwari - 14 November 2013

the 3rd schedule you rightly quote refer to the exempts institution from what it gets as donations and its income. the commissioner may pounce on the income the church makes out of the donations. a donation per se is capital not taxable but the income is produces it fruit so may attract taxes. this is besides the obvious PAYEE on all employees of the church. from the Act's point of view the pastor has to account for his earnings from the church or from other sources.

zimbabwe institute revenue specialists - 14 November 2013

These are last desperate moves of a dying horse. You can not rig an economy. These thieves, thugs, dzashaya zvekuita. If ZIMRA is serious about following up on those companies that are evading paying taxes, they should start with companies for all politiburo members of ZANU-PF such as Chombo, Mpofu, Mugabe, current Minister of Environment, and other connected politicians like Kereke, Gono, Chiyangwa, etc. Companies for these crooks are well known for evading paying taxes. Munangagwa's companies are well known for smuggling goods into the contry without paying requisite taxes. Government is just trying to divert attention from real economic issues bedevilling this country. At the moment you are busy looting money from diamonds. Remember you can only rig an election but you can not do the same to the economy. The mere mention of the word ZANU-PF will scare away all investors even those from China. Criminals in Cabinet beware. Do not provoke people, we are tied of you.

Gandanga - 14 November 2013

I see nothing wrong with this. Everything the church is doing to make a profit must be taxed. This is even in line with scriptures-''Give Caesar what belongs to Caesar.''

jurist - 14 November 2013

Desperate measures for desperate times but I am surprised by the moves the government is taking while its ok to collect tax from churches why has it not been done before why now? Hope it will reduce the burden but I am taken aback by this fire fighting stance they are pursuing instead of putting in measures of preventing the fire first of all. Zvakadvanya muchati baba nemiridzo. Seka nhamo serugare.

Gwenaz - 14 November 2013

Bhora mugedhi vakomana nevasikana!!!!!!!

Mbada diamonds - 14 November 2013

In as much as I support taxing of the profit making churches but I feel in Africa we seem to lose it politically while the majority of countries in the West have adopted the coalition rule we seem to take the greedy one party stance when the coalition is the solution. During the GPA the economy showed some signs of recovery which has since disappeared when Zanu PF won the elections.

Gwenaz - 14 November 2013

Jehova chiona zvoite nyika .....

Samasango - 14 November 2013

Nawo machurch. They are becoming filth reach. some take huge levies from "their" schoosl and it is pay back time

MARKO - 14 November 2013

Does Chiyangwa, Mpofu, Kasukuwere et al submit tax returns for their businesses?

Taxes - 14 November 2013

Desparate measures will not take us anywhere,i dont support this idea churchs are not profit making organisations and they do a lot of charity work.MAIITIORO AKO AWO CHINJA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!This is just the beginning watch their next move.

TERRA COTTA - 14 November 2013

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