Farirai Machivenyika Senior Reporter
The Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) will soon tax churches and is working on a legislative framework that should be ready by November for the purpose.
This was by said Zimra Commissioner-General Gershem Pasi when he appeared before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Small and Medium Enterprises and Cooperatives Development.
“We are now focusing on them (churches) and we have engaged them, we are setting parameters,” he said.
“We don’t care how they make their money and come November, we will be through with our legislative proposals to the minister (Finance and Economic Development Patrick Chinamasa), which will tighten that area because we have seen loopholes there. They are not immune to taxation.”
Mr Pasi’s comments follow the mushrooming of churches that preach the gospel of accumulation with some of the leaders publicly flaunting their riches.
Some have also been accused of abusing their privileges as churches to avoid paying taxes.
Mr Pasi said Zimra was working on a new electronic system that will be launched on a trial basis in the coming few weeks and is expected to enhance revenue collection and target some sectors that are currently not contributing to the fiscus.
“In a few weeks time, we will be launching our pilot project. We will be launching a system which will be fool-proof and interfaces with our systems.
“Our pilots will cover various categories including the taxis. The meters that will be put in taxis will be linked to our systems and if someone tampers with them that car will not start,” he said.
He said Zimra was working with the ministry of Small and Medium Enterprises and Cooperative Development to register SMEs so that their operations are formalised.
“We are working closely with the ministry responsible for SMEs in trying to bring sanity in the area. We have agreed that the ministry go through registration of all SMEs so that they can be formalised and we create a database then we will follow them through,” Mr Pasi said.
He said the prevailing harsh economic environment had resulted in many company closures and pressure on the tax collector as many were involved in informal economic activities making it difficult for them to collect revenue.
Meanwhile, Mr Pasi said there was need for a holistic approach by stakeholders to come up with policies to address the challenges being faced by the economy.
“We need to have an industrial policy with input from everybody which will resuscitate our industry. We need to address that issue that it should be given the urgency it deserves. The problem we have as Zimbabweans is that we are laid back and believe things will right themselves.
“We are creating a generation that might never know formal employment and that would be wasted investment given the resources we have spent in their education.”