Home » Judicial » Honeymoon Over for Tax Offenders

TOUGH times loom for tax offenders post the amnesty which lapses end of this month as the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority, disappointed by a paltry 1471 applications for tax amnesty, will launch a blitz against the abundant “evidence of wealth” to recover what belongs to Government.

Zimra boss Mr Gershem Pasi told journalists on Friday that only 1 471 applications have been received since October last year when the amnesty was launched despite the evidence that the authority having access to information given its access to “everything that happens in the economy”.

Of the, 159 were rejected mainly because of incomplete information and where declarations were made on amounts that would have already been assessed.

“We are somewhat disappointed. I expected taxpayers to come out in their thousands not just one thousand by this time. There’s a lot of evidence of wealth in the country. From that evidence when we compare it with what we have on our books as taxpayers, there’s a lot of underdeclarations. At this point in time things could be better,” said Mr Pasi.

The tax amnesty covers offences committed during the period from February 1 2009 to September 30 2014. The period within which persons can apply for tax amnesty is from October 1 last year to the end of this month.

Zimra has opened the amnesty to all classes of taxpayers.

Post the tax amnesty, Zimra will not be as lenient with offenders in arranging payment terms. Penalties and interest, suspended in line with tax amnesty will be back on board. Garnishee orders, although they were the last resort, will be considered. The tax amnesty also offers non-prosecution to defaulters who voluntarily apply for pardon.

“Come April we will not be as lenient in arranging payment terms. We will seek to recover our money more expeditiously. We have capacity through our ICT development to have all the information and process it. We will appeal to our Minister (of Finance and Economic Development) for sterner penalties for truant taxpayers after the amnesty because Government has said come clean. It is also our recommendation that there be no more tax amnesties in future,” said Mr Pasi.

The chief Government tax collector says the idea of inviting people to come forward is not aimed at strangling economic growth through closure of companies in default of tax obligations but to grow the authority’s tax database in order to “move together going forward”.

Zimra’s tax amnesty has found support from the recently formed Black Business Forum which welcomed the move.

In a statement, Black Business Forum media and public relations executive Mr William Chaitezvi said the macro-economic environment severely affected many black-owned businesses in the last five years and continues to take its toll on the few remaining businesses.

Black Business Forum, however, appealed to Zimra to extend the repayment period to 2018 so as to ease pressure on the already poor performing cash flows.

The group provides capacity through training, market linkages and lobbying for enabling business environment and legislation.

Source : The Herald