Zimra ushers in new tax devices
Tendai Mugabe and Joan Tsikira
The Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (zimra) has introduced a new tax management system that captures real time financial and statistical data from traders to advise Government accordingly on policies relating to tax issues.
The system, which uses electronic devices, is part of e-government initiatives being implemented under the auspices of the Office of the President and Cabinet.
Under this system, the taxman will be able to quickly detect firms that under-declare their business transactions to either evade or pay less tax.
Data captured through this system will allow zimra to advise Government on policies relating to tax issues and to take appropriate measures to deal with the malpractice.
Addressing students at the National Defence College in Harare yesterday, zimra Commissioner General Mr Gershem Pasi, said the system would be rolled out during the first quarter of next year.
The new tax management system would among other things, eliminate fiscal fraud by ensuring timely transfer of fiscal data to the tax authorities.
Said Mr Pasi: “The system we are putting covers all kinds of taxes and it captures all kinds of trade statistics.
“For instance, the push of a button enables us to say wholesale A, B, C sold so much of this item. If it is soap (and) if it is lux or whatever, you can actually see how many of those soaps that was natural or whatever flagrant so that for planning purposes now you have those statistics categorising all products so that as you now advise your Minister and Government in terms of economic policies, they are informed from actual data.”
The system is waterproof in that if a business contemplated to cheat the system by switching off the device, it would automatically report to zimra head office.
On that particular moment, Mr Pasi said, a team would be dispatched to the business in question to engage the owners.
“It helps us to see when people are either switching off the machine or they are not utilising the machine, we see it real time and our teams can then engage the operators,” he said.
Mr Pasi said one of the test runs of the system was done during the recent International Conference on Aids and STIs in Africa where all authorised taxis were mounted with new tax management devices.
Said Mr Pasi: “All the taxis that were authorised (during ICASA) are already operating using our tax management system.
“The meters that are in there are taxi meters which we put in which report real time whatever is happening to the taxi. The moment they put for hire, it triggers in our system real time. If you tamper with it, the car will not start.
“We are not targeting the informal sector, but we are targeting all economic players. We have some who are categorised as informal for instance bottle stores and hair dressers we have to put our gadgets there and capture the data.”
Mr Pasi said it was difficult for zimra to account for what it had lost as a result of tax evasion since dollarisation due to lack of proper technology to track the evaders.
He said with the new tax management system, they would be able establish the enormity of the loss.
Contrary to some beliefs that ZIMRA was there to kill industry, Mr Pasi said, it actually promoted the survival and growth of industry.
He said Government needed financial resources to provide services that improved the quality of life of all its citizens and therefore fiscal laws were administered to ensure that tax revenue was collected on time and in full.
On garnishee orders that had threatened the survival of some companies, Mr Pasi said: “Where all efforts to collect outstanding tax fail, we are left with no option but to place garnishee orders.
“We are not oblivious to the negative effects of garnishing accounts of our clients, neither are we unaware of the Government’s need for revenue to finance its vital operations.
“It’s a balancing act in the best interest of the economy.”