HARARE - The Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) granted tax amnesty on defaulters expires today, amid indications that cash-strapped corporates did not yield to the taxman’s call.
Last year, government made a provision for tax defaulters to approach the authority with payment plans, but Zimra had to continuously extend the deadline.
The initial provision granted a limited tax amnesty for a period of six months, with effect from October 1, 2014, but was extended to March 31, 2015 and then again to today.
However, Gershom Pasi, Zimra commissioner general is on record saying once the amnesty period runs out, the taxman will “descend on all unyielding defaulters”
“We are now saying after the amnesty we need to be ruthless. We may want our minister to bring some legislation which can tighten things even further for those who are delinquent because we have done all we can to say come clean,
“And we went further, we even said if you come to pay you get discounts as you pay, but if people are not prepared to come then we will certainly be going after them more ruthlessly after the amnesty,” Pasi said last week.
Pasi also said Zimra was also going to start property attachments to deal with tax offenders.
“I think that’s where we want to go attaching property so that we change that unwillingness to want to contribute towards state development,” he said.
Early this year, Pasi said the authority was “very disappointed” by the amount of applications received, as most defaulters did not respond to the call to address outstanding dues.
At the end of February, only 1 471 applications had been received, versus over $1 billion owed to the authority in outstanding dues.
The amnesty is in respect to any non-compliance which occurred during the period beginning February 1, 2009 to September 30, 2014, according to Zimra.
However, issues already under investigation are not covered by the amnesty.
In the first quarter, $468,53 million had been collected by the taxman against a target of $542 million
According to Pasi, unpaid taxes in February were over $1 billion.
Official data shows that 4 610 companies closed operations between 2011 and October last year, rendering over 64 000 workers jobless, although analysts believe the figures could be higher.
Company closures have resulted in the proliferation of informal businesses that are largely evading tax obligations, Pasi said, adding that outstanding taxes were at $1 billion, from $500 million in 2013.