03-02-17 by Spotlight Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe tax agency owed over 2 billion dollars in unpaid taxes

HARARE — Zimbabwe tax agency ZIMRA (Zimbabwe Revenue Authority) said Wednesday it is owed 2.5 billion U.S. dollars in unpaid taxes mostly by companies.

Acting Commissioner General Happias Kuzvinzwa said the tax agency will soon start attaching properties of tax evaders, news agency New Ziana reported.

“In some countries they send tax dodgers to prison and after serving, you will still be required to pay the tax, but in Zimbabwe we have not yet gone that far,” Kuzvinzwa said.

It was a “betrayal” of trust vested in companies by the people if they failed to pay their taxes, he said.

“Customers diligently pay Value Added Tax when they purchase goods but when it comes to remitting, they do not,” he said.

In the past two years, ZIMRA has given companies owing the tax collector a special dispensation to pay up or stagger payments without facing any penalties.

Few companies, however, responded to the dispensation.

Companies have slammed the tax agency for being “too harsh” on them at a time they are struggling to survive in a difficult economic environment.

ZIMRA has been struggling to meet revenue targets in recent years due to shrinkage of the formal sector as a result of the poor performing economy.

In over a decade, the Zimbabwe government has largely relied on taxes to finance the national budget, hovering around 4 billion dollars annually for the past few years, after Western donors cut budgetary support over accusations of human rights abuses.



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