I RECENTLY participated in a seminar on various aspects of value-added tax (Vat) and the new withholding tax organised by a firm of chartered accountants.
epresentatives of the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) were also in attendance.
Everyone by now knows what Vat is, but very few know what withholding tax is.
Our government, through Zimra, has taken tax collection to new and diabolical depths. Not even the biblical taxmen were as insidious as this.
Indeed, it is since biblical times that ordinary people have resented the taxman. They were put in the same moral category as prostitutes.
Since those days, taxmen the world over have endeavoured to clean up their image, much the same way as prostitutes who now call themselves commercial sex workers.
In Zimbabwe the taxman is called Zimra, and it has endeavoured to take on a more businesslike persona, even to the extent of having a fanciful motto on its logo — “Transparency, fairness, integrity”, I think it goes.
In biblical eyes a prostitute will always be a prostitute, and the taxman will always be a taxman.
Perhaps they are so ashamed of doing the tax job themselves that they are now trying to get the general business public to do it for them — in the draconian form of the new withholding tax.
For the uninitiated, if business A wishes to purchase goods from business B, then business A has, at the time of payment, to make sure that business B has a tax clearance certificate 263 from Zimra — a document certifying that the holder is up to date in their income tax payments to Zimra.
If they do not have a 263, then business A has to deduct a withholding tax of 10% from business B and send it to Zimra.
Should business A fail to carry out this immoral duty, then Zimra will deduct it from business A itself and also has the option to penalise business A and charge it interest!
One does not need much of an imagination to see the resentment that is already building up in the business world.
A whipper-snapper business asking a large conglomerate for its 263 certificate, take your business elsewhere!
What incomprehensible gall the government has, to embroil us in this awful business?
While tax collection is in most cases necessary, it should be left to those who chose this unsavoury career.
I did hear it mentioned that we were advised by the Australians that this was a good way of collecting tax. It is a pity, if true, that the tax advice wasn’t filed in the same out tray as their advice about good governance.