Zimra swoops in on corporates

via Zimra swoops in on corporates | The Herald November 3, 2015

State revenue collector, Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) has targeted corporate account holders at banking institutions in a move which analysts believe is calculated to make it easier for the tax collector to sweep funds from defaulting corporates, The Herald Business can reveal. ZIMRA last week wrote to some banks, asking them to provide details of all their corporate account holders including addresses and bank balances.

However, banking sector sources privy to the developments told The Herald Business that banks approached their regulator, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to seek guidance before divulging customer information to a third party. The RBZ is said to have told bankers not to respond to ZIMRA’s request.

The move by ZIMRA, while supported by legislation in terms of the Income Tax Act, the Customs and Excise Act and the Value Added Tax Act, would have flown into the face of a centuries old tradition of banking secrecy, enshrined in the common law duty of confidentiality imposed on bankers.

Bankers are at law expected to act in the interests of their clients and to observe strict confidentiality regarding the affairs of their clients except in instances where there are legitimate grounds to breach that wall. Bankers Association of Zimbabwe president Sam Malaba confirmed that the matter had been resolved. The request came at a time that ZIMRA missed its third quarter revenue collection targets.

According to the performance report Zimra collected $878,22 million against a target of $964 million – a 7 percent drop from $884 million collected during the same period last year. The tax collector indicated that potential revenue of $265 million was forgone in the last 3 months due to the long list of supplies that have a zero-rate tag or were under duty exemption. Individual tax and excise duty contributed the bulk of the revenue with tax on alcohol, fuel and airtime keeping the country going.

Meanwhile, banks are also faced with a demand from Government to return funds paid to pensioners’ bank accounts that have not been claimed since 2009. According to banking sector sources, some banks are sitting on as much as $16 million in pensions that have been paid by Government to bank accounts. However, some of these monies have not been withdrawn by beneficiaries, raising questions if the pensioners are still alive.

No comment could be obtained from Finance and Economic Development Minister Patrick Chinamasa on the matter as his mobile lines were unavailable at the time of going to print.