Small businesses bemoan hawkish Zimra taxes

Women in business in Mutare have blamed the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra)’s stiff penalties for the closure of several companies.

Samuel Undenge – taxes are needed so that we can pay civil servants.
Samuel Undenge – taxes are needed so that we can pay civil servants.

Speaking at the launch of the Manicaland Women’s Business Forum (MWBF), participants told The Zimbabwean that Zimra’s actions were counterproductive to job creation and sustainable development. They called on the authority to review tax penalties.

The chairperson of MWBF, Vivian Chasauka, said Zimra’s actions had crippled already struggling businesses.

“The government is preaching ZimAsset (Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Social and Economic Transformation), but how can the programme be successful when an arm of the government like Zimra is working to the contrary?” Chasauka said.

Entrepreneur Barbara Mutani said: “Zimra is instituting drastic orders and attaching our company assets for defaulting. This is a very sad scenario that has led to many workers being thrown onto the streets.”

Hilda Sande, a local businesswoman, said: “Mutare plays an important role in the implementation of ZimAsset due to its proximity to the Indian Ocean. It is the gateway to the sea. But we are facing difficulties from Zimra that have left us wondering if we will do business again.”

Zimra head of audit in Manicaland Willie Chishakwe said a lot of companies in the province owed the tax collector.

“We can actually exceed our targets by three times if we collect all the debts. Zimra is offering payment plans to those in arrears. If you don’t come to own up about what you owe us, that is when we take drastic measures,” he said.

Chishakwe said that due to the harsh economic conditions they were not attaching property.

“We understand that companies are under financial stress and we have suspended the attachment of property, but there are cases where the commissioner-general is empowered to do so,” he said.

Deputy finance minister Samuel Undenge said?Zimra needed to collect taxes because the money was an important part of the government budget.

“We have a huge salary bill for the civil servants. They need to be?paid and thus companies must pay their dues on time to avoid?penalties.”

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