Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) has lamented low tax compliance levels in the country; a development the tax collector says has increased the burden on those who are compliant.
Addressing captains of industry and Commerce in Bulawayo at a ZimTrade Exporters Conference last week, ZIMRA commissioner-general, Faith Mazani, said their revenue was coming from a few companies, with a number not paying consistently.
Zimbabwe is one of the countries where both individuals and corporates are overtaxed and ZIMRA’s taxing regime has been blamed for the closure of many companies countrywide.
“I know those who pay taxes feel the burden,” said Mazani.
“Let me say it is because it is not so many of us who are paying. Our compliance levels are low and as a result, ZIMRA is depending on the few.”
The ZIMRA boss, however, could not immediately give statistics.
“Once we all take this burden together our taxes can be reduced,” she said.
“What I like about our tax platform is that we are broad-based. We have a number of taxes; different types. Yes, everybody is contributing but not equally. It is a policy issue that we would like to have addressed but I think the biggest issue is compliance.”
Mazani said the appetite for tax incentives by businesses was also affecting their revenue base while also creating an uneven playing field among different taxpayers.
“We seem to have a culture of wanting cheaper things and wanting to be favoured,” she said.
“This where incentives come in; and it is not everybody who is going to get the incentives. We talk about export processing zones, but what are they trying to attract. We find that because of the number of incentives that we are building, we are then creating an uneven playing field.”
The ZIMRA boss said tax incentives required a coordinated approach to ensure that they achieve their intended goal at the end.
While urging exporters and importers to be tax-compliant, Mazani warned them against corruption, which she said had become the biggest cost in doing business in Zimbabwe.
“As exporters, you are actually exporting for profit. You are not in charity,” said ZIMRA commissioner-general.
“I am disappointed that none of the businesses here mentioned one big cost that our businesses have to pay and that is the cost of corruption. It is a big cost whether it is to the ZIMRA officer or facilitator or whatever you call it. What I am saying as ZIMRA is that we do not support that cost, so don’t pay it and we are there to support you.”