By Mthulisi Mathuthu
SW Radio Africa
12 June 2014
Bulawayo firms were on the lookout this week after the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) launched a tax blitz throughout the city, reports have said.
Bulawayo24.com said about 30 Zimra officials raided the Parkade Center on Wednesday demanding tax forms from shop operators. The website said tax evaders were shut down, but it was not clear by Thursday how many firms were found wanting.
Some shop operators complained, saying it was wrong for Zimra to force them to shut down on failing to produce tax forms on the spot because they kept such documents elsewhere.
SW Radio correspondent Lionel Saungweme confirmed the developments saying the exercise was wider than has been reported and is still ongoing and is spreading to all provinces. He said the national tax collector is pursuing small and informal businesses who pay what Zimra calls ‘presumptive tax’ – this is not tax based on what you earn but on the mere existence of the firm.
Saungweme said many small shop operators feel hard done by this type of tax because they are now being forced to sell some of their assets to comply with the law, because they are not making any profit at all.
Bulawayo-based policy researcher Butler Tambo said the Zimra exercise was a ‘sad development’ because it stood to destroy the remaining small companies that are keeping many families running. He added: ‘There is a liquidity crisis in the country as you know and these companies are not making profit. Moreover, they are failing to access loans from the banks and now we have Zimra coming in with this crackdown.’
Tambo said the national tax collector was in a panic mode because they are not able to raise enough money to fund the activities of the central government.
These comments come after Zimra was last week reportedly in another nationwide highway blitz alongside traffic cops, in what motorists and travellers said was a fund raising exercise for the broke ZANU PF government.