Churches say ‘no’ to taxes

via Churches say ‘no’ to taxes – DailyNews Live by Helen Kadirire and Bridget Mananavire  15 NOVEMBER 2013 

Widespread public fury has erupted in Zimbabwe as the cash-strapped government  is beginning to make churches a prime target for taxation.

While Taungana Ndoro, Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra)’s chief of corporate communications, was still not ready with an official statement on the crackdown saying the technical crew conducting the operation was still out, faith-based organisations insisted that they should not be taxed as they were doing work which government has failed to do.

As public outcry grew, Zimbabwe’s tax agency continued sending officials to local churches as part of an investigation into tax evasion, making inquiries about their sources of income and seeking information on people who donate to the churches.

Churches in Zimbabwe are mostly run as charity organisations which are exempted from taxation but government’s desperation for funds has seen Zimra descending on churches.

Bishop Noah Pashapa of Life and Liberty Churches said churches should not be taxed except those which run as businesses.

“There are churches that operate as business cooperatives whereby they are owned by an individual who benefits from offerings and tithes directly,” Pashapa said.

“And then there are those that operate as faith-based not-for-profit organisations which are public entities whose income is channelled towards community development and social transformation.”

Pashapa said it was not only immoral but unfair and detrimental to society for government to tax faith-based organisations because they were fulfilling a role that government has failed to perform.

“These churches are doing what government has failed, which is feed and clothe prisoners and cater for the well-being of the widows, orphans, elderly and other vulnerable people in society,” he said.

The founder of Life and Liberty Churches however said those churches that operate as business entities with a sole proprietor should be heavily taxed.

Alec Matumba of the Apostolic Faith Mission said churches and government were equal partners because they both have a conscience to society.

Matumba said government should appreciate the work that is being done by churches as it was taking care of a lot of institutions including schools and orphanages.

“It is barbaric for Caesar to be asking for a contribution from the church,” Matumba said. “Our donations go to orphans and we contribute immensely to society.

“It is not fair to increase the burden on the churches. It is also grossly unjust to even think, let alone write down that churches should be made to pay taxes.”

He also highlighted that government should not make everyone suffer because of the few flamboyant churches that parade their wealth without contributing to society.

Admire Taderera, Heartfelt Ministries International spokesperson, said if the taxation was in line with statutes, then his church would comply with the order.

“I want to believe that Zimra’s actions are guided by the government,” Taderera said.

“The only challenge that we may face is that of our Heartlife branch of the church which cares for the disadvantaged people in the community which may suffer from this.”

In the Bible, the issue of taxing also caused controversy when the Pharisees asked Jesus whether they should be paying taxes to Caesar or not. Jesus replied “give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar.”

A remarkable number of churches treated  the taxation as a taboo subject, with many saying they were yet to sit down and coordinate a response to  government’s latest move.

The Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC) which is an interdenominational organisation made up of 26 different denominations, said it needed to consult.

“We need to consult with our member churches before we have a position as an organisation because our denominations have different backgrounds,” said ZCC president Ishmael Mukuwanda.

“As an executive, we meet twice a year but we have officers on the ground to work on various issues but they need to consult first.”

Government has failed to raise money even to fund the budget whose presentation has been postponed to next year amid a wave of economic chaos that is starting to affect the generality of Zimbabweans.

So desperate is government that Zimra officials are said to be putting pressure on church leaders to reveal names of people who make donations to the church.

But the same business people who make donations to churches are also taxed at their companies raising questions on the motives of Zimra officials.

 

COMMENTS

WORDPRESS: 6
  • comment-avatar
    Mafuta 7 years ago

    Why doesn’t ZANU send goons to churches on Sunday and just grab money off the offering plates, or snatch alms out of the hands of disabled beggars?

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    Naison Mukati 7 years ago

    Lots of these born again outfits that have mushroomed Zimbabwe, are business enterprises and should paying taxes. The Makandiwas, Wutaunashe and Engels are fabulously rich, driving the most expensive cars in the world. They should share their wealth with the state.

  • comment-avatar

    Why is zanupf not using the revenue from the sales of the nations diamonds???

  • comment-avatar
    Pastor 7 years ago

    The superpowers often behave like two heavily armed blind men feeling their way around a room, each believing himself in mortal peril from the other, whom he assumes to have perfect vision.Well, I’ll put it this way: you can certainly say belief in God makes people behave worse. That can be proved beyond a doubt.

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    mutakura 7 years ago

    I am very angry with govt over the issue of taxing churches. I am angry because it has taken govt so long to come up with this brilliant move. The country is now full of criminals and mafia bosses masquarading as pastors reverends bishops holymen etc stealing from the stupid, gullible and naive zimbabwe public. I wish the govt would take a step further by rounding up these tsotsis, these conmen and conwomen and lock them up and throw the key into the nearest sewer. I am a follower of Christ and it pains me to see how these con artists use God to steal from the gullible public. They shamelessly preach the devil’s word of wealth accumulation. The people love to hear it because they are poor. They think this is their only way out of poverty. In the meantime they have to empty their pockets to the con artists because they have been told that the more you give the more you will get and blessed and the con artists will smile all the way to the bank. My advice to Zmra is- hit these tsotsis where it hurts most- their pockets

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    Pardon Tazvitya 7 years ago

    The move is brilliant. But I don’t think it’s because the government is bankrupt. Its mainly because churches are meddling in politics and government issues. They are also manipulating political decisions, thus they need to be humbled. Of Ceaser the bible says ‘he is also God’s minister… who doesn’t hold a sword for nothing’. Romans 13.
    The warning in Revelations is ‘Get out of her my people if you do not want to share in her sins.