Zimra invokes God on tax defaulters

THE Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) is stoking the spirit of fear among tax defaulters by invoking the name of God.

Zimra acting commissioner general Happias Kuzvinzwa said it was prudent for citizens to comply with the country and God’s laws in order to create a successful and peaceful society.

“I want to encourage those who are not paying their taxes, known as the free-riders, to join the compliance train for it’s an honour and it dignifies a nation when its citizens comply with their tax laws,” Kuzvinzwa told delegates attending the 2016 taxpayer appreciation awards dinner in Harare

“From the Holy Scriptures, The Holy Bible, God was speaking to his people in Malachi 3 verse 8 -10 and He says, ‘Can a man rob God? Yet you ask where in have we robbed you. Yes in tithe and offering,’” he added.

This comes as the country’s half year taxes at $1,65 billion were six percent below the projected $1,75 billion.
Compared to the same period last year, collections were down nine percent due to a depressed economy, adding pressure on a government struggling to pay workers’ salaries.

In the period under review, company taxes were 13 percent below target at $145 million, a figure which is less than half what individuals paid.

On the other hand, mining companies paid $33 million in royalties, below the target of $52 million as mines in Zimbabwe struggle with low commodity prices.

The national tax collector was owed $2,63 billion in outstanding taxes during the first half of the year.
Kuzvinzwa noted that when there is a cry of revenue underperformance then it becomes true that people and corporates are evading taxes through “transfer pricing, thin capitalisation, profit shifting, base erosion, smuggling and corruption” among other things.

“In Mathew 17:24-27, we find Jesus paying his tax and also in Luke 20:22 we also find Jesus stating that it is lawful for citizens to pay their tax to government. Pay unto Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God,” he said.

“Time has come and time is now that each citizen should do introspection and examine self if one is not robbing his country and government. Paying taxes dignifies the nation, sign of patriotism to own country and it’s a cost of living in a civilised society,” the Zimra boss added.

Speaking at the same occasion, Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa said the country should embrace technology to bolster dwindling revenue streams in the face of deteriorating economic conditions.

The introduction of Closed Circuit Television System (CCTV) at Beitbridge Border Post is meant to monitor adherence to procedures and curb corruption,” he said.

“Furthermore, under the Ease of Doing Business Programme, there are a number of initiatives which are meant to improve investor confidence by streamlining major processes through embracing technology,” he added.

Chinamasa noted that the use of technology can help reduce compliance costs, improve convenience to the transacting public and, above all, increase levels of voluntary compliance.

“Burdensome and sophisticated tax procedures negatively affect any country’s investment climate, ease of doing business and is a major drawback against voluntary compliance,” he said.
The Treasury boss paid homage to companies that are paying their taxes on time, thus sustaining the country’s moribund economy.
“Indeed, you are sustaining hospitals, the education sector, the civil service, our infrastructure and several social amenities and services which the government provides to its people,” he said.
“With the El Nino phenomenon, the burden on the government’s shoulders is even heavier and we count on compliant taxpayers, who are being recognised tonight, to make ongoing efforts to feed those in need of food possible,” Chinamasa added.

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