Disability levy on the cards

ZIMBABWEAN taxpayers must brace for yet another levy should government approve the ruling Zanu PF party’s proposed tax to cushion the country’s disabled population estimated at two million.

Staff Writer

In its report presented to the party’s sixth elective congress in Harare last month, Zanu PF’s department for the welfare of the disabled and disadvantaged persons recommended government introduces a disability levy, along the same lines as the Aids levy.

Zimbabwe introduced a compulsory 3% Aids levy to all employees with taxable incomes and their employers in 1999 to fund Aids mitigation programmes.

“…Government was exhorted to establish a disability levy, modelled along the lines of the Aids Levy, as this would assist to ensure that meaningful relief to the economic problems of people with disabilities is introduced,” the department wrote in its report.

If introduced, this would add to a long and onerous list of taxes being levied on the country’s ever-dwindling workforce by a government whose revenue base continues to shrink.

These include the Aids Levy, National Social Security Authority (Nssa) pension and a high Pay As You Earn (PAYE) tax.

Already workers are unhappy with Nssa which has dismally failed in its stated objective of cushioning pensioners from economic hardships by providing a monthly pension. On average pensioners receive about US$40 from Nssa which is grossly inadequate to pay rentals, water and electricity as well as medical treatment, among a host of bills.

In 2012, former Indigenisation minister Saviour Kasukuwere pushed for the introduction of an indigenisation levy, but his successor Francis Nhema, fired by President Robert Mugabe last month, opposed the move saying “the country has too many levies and it is not appropriate as of now to bring more levies”.

Acting ZCTU secretary-general Gideon Shoko said while catering for the disabled is a noble idea, ZCTU is against adding any more taxes as this “stretches the meagre resources of the already over-burdened workers”.

“You are talking about taxing the same worker that is already over-burdened with so many other taxes including the Aids levy. You are taxing the small amount that the worker is supposed to remain with,” said Shoko on Wednesday, adding government should find other means of funding its cause.

Attempts to obtain a comment from the Public Service ministry were unsuccessful as ministry officials kept referring this paper to different departments and ultimately demanding written questions which they said could only be attended to after permission from the relevant minister, Prisca Mupfumira.