Zimra ups ante on tax defaulters

HARARE - The Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) has threatened to deal “decisively” with defaulters who ignore the granted amnesty to regularise their outstanding tax bills.

Gershem Pasi, the tax collector’s commissioner-general, said they were awaiting the nod from the Finance ministry to put in place enabling legal instruments.

“After the amnesty, even if you say we are a threat to business, we are going to be ruthless,” he warned, while addressing a Financial Gazette-organised business dialogue forum in the capital yesterday.

“We are proposing amendments to the law to enable us to be more ruthless to those who miss the opportunity to realign their taxes,” he said.

The Zimra chief’s remarks come as his organisation is battling to collect more than $500 million owed in various forms of outstanding taxes.

Of late, he has come under severe pressure from business, which feels his tax collection system is radical and stymies business growth, a concession also made by President Robert Mugabe during the official opening of the 8th Parliament last week.

But, Pasi said Zimra would not relent on its mission to recover and collect outstanding dues especially in the aftermath of a general amnesty extended to defaulters who, under normal, circumstances would be prosecuted.

“We know there are those who are building 42-roomed mansions and we continue to compile our database. We realise we don’t have the resources to go after everybody but come the end of the amnesty, we are going to be ruthless,” said Pasi.

Zimra, in line with both the monetary policy statement and the midterm policy statement, is encouraging corporates and individuals with outstanding tax obligations to align their taxes.

This period runs for six months and started on October 1, 2014. The amnesty was granted for ‘misdemeanours’ covering the period February 2009 up to September 2014.

Pasi told executives that the garnish orders which have drawn outrage from the business community were used as the last resort to collect outstanding dues which were often running into months of defaulting.

“I must hasten to say this is a system that we don’t use willy-nilly. Commissioners here (with you) will have to approve. Garnish orders are used as a last resort.

“We want to make sure we are using the facility (garnish) on those who are truant, playing catch me if you can,” said Pasi.

Zimra is accused of throttling business and in worst cases, closing them down because of garnish orders, which Pasi said were not a form of punishment to business, but an instrument to recover what was owed.

“I pray that none of you would be at the receiving end of these garnish orders. If you have problems come talk to us, our doors are open,” said Pasi.

“We are aware of the consequences of the garnish orders but our desire is not to close business. Dialogue is the best way to bridge the rift between us.”


Comments (1)

Has the tax man ever thought about going door to door around Harare to the thousands of double story 10 bedroom mansions that predominate the suburbs. Or is that out of bounds just in case some of our government officials might be offended , you may even bag many of your own tax office staff ???. We know you have been targeting the street corner venders , but you need to be going for something a little more worth your while. I think government should introduce an independent bounty system to recover taxes owed, with a 20 % retainer. Somehow I don't think government would allow that, No surprise.

ronaldos - 7 November 2014

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