The Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) said on Wednesday it is owed $2,5 billion in unpaid taxes, and vowed not to tire in its quest to collect the outstanding revenue.
Acting commissioner general Happias Kuzvinzwa told media practitioners the authority had “no appetite to issue garnish orders” against companies failing to remit their dues and only did so when left with no option.
“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,” he said.
“We just issue garnish orders and can also attach properties but we also have not gone that far. Our patience will soon run out and we will soon start attaching properties of tax evaders.”
Mr Kuzvinzwa said the authority had acquired equipment and was continuously capacitating its officials to be able to deliver on its mandate.
Tracking systems and a “hotline” to report corruption are among initiatives that had been introduced to address abuses.
Zimra has in the last two decades been providing over 95 percent of the Government’s budget funding following a dearth in support from donors due to political differences over Zimbabwe’s land reform programme.
A lull in economic activity over the years and shrinkage of the formal sector has made it difficult for the authority to meet revenue targets.
Mr Kuzvinzwa said while some individuals were dodging paying taxes, there were “footprints” showing that people were making money in various parts of the country.
“Harare is now devoid of mountains as people are building big houses in the northern suburbs. You see the footprints of money,” he said.
“Even in the streets you see the expensive cars being driven, those are footprints of money.”
He said the tax collector would continue to follow the “footprints” as well as those whose dues were not up to date to ensure tax compliance.
He said it was a “betrayal” of trust vested in companies by the people if they failed to pay their taxes.
“Customers diligently pay Value Added Tax when they purchase goods but when it comes to remitting, they do not,” he said.
Zimra in the past two years gave a special dispensation to companies that owe the tax collector to pay up and or schedule payments without facing any penalties.
But few companies responded to the call.
At the same time companies have slammed the revenue agency for allegedly being heavy handed when dealing with firms which are also struggling to remain afloat in a challenging operating environment.
Meanwhile, Mr Kuzvinzwa said the authority’s employees had been asked to declare their assets and were also having their lifestyles audited as the taxman battles to contain corruption among its officials. — New Ziana.