Mthuli appeals rice tax ban

Source: Mthuli appeals rice tax ban – NewsDay Zimbabwe

FINANCE minister Mthuli Ncube yesterday filed an appeal against a High Court judgment on Wednesday, which banned the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) and Treasury from charging 14,5% value-added tax (VAT) on all imported rice products.

Taxing of rice imports had resulted in the prices of the product going up by 20% to 25% as importers passed on the costs to consumers.

Human rights activist Vongai Zimudzi, through her lawyer Obey Shava, had dragged Ncube and Zimra to court for double taxation of rice imports.

But in his ruling on Wednesday, High Court judge Justice Webster Chinamhora said it should be exempt from taxation.

Zimra and Ncube had backdated the charging of VAT on imported rice to 2016.

Yesterday, Ncube deposed his application to challenge Justice Chinamhora’s ruling through his lawyers, Kantor and Immerman.

“It being common cause, or must be taken to be common cause, that: The ministry is not liable for assessment or payment of value added tax as contemplated by section 6 of the Value Added Tax Act,” he argued.

Ncube said the relief sought was in respect of alleged past rights, as opposed to existing or future rights.

He said the court erred at law in finding that the ministry had established that it had locus standi to seek, let alone be granted, the relief as per the amended order.

Ncube also submitted that the “appeal be upheld with costs and the judgment of the court be set aside in its entirety and be replaced with the dismissal of the matter with costs.”

Shava had argued that the charging of VAT on rice, which was exempted in terms of the law from tax, was illegal.

In his ruling this week, Justice Chinamhora said: “In the context of the dispute between the parties, he observed that section 11(1) of the Value Added Tax Act Chapter 23:12 that allows certain goods and services to be exempt from VAT and such goods and services are set out in the First Schedule, which is contained in Statutory Instrument (SI) 273 of 2003.”

The judgment further ordered Ncube and Zimra to pay costs of the suit.