Thursday, December 30, 2010

(HERALD) Zimra launches blitz against tax dodgers

Zimra launches blitz against tax dodgers
By Helen Mubvumbi
Thursday, 30 December, 2010

THE Zimbabwe Revenue Authority, in conjunction with the Ministry of Tourism and Hospitality Industry, has launched a blitz against suspected tax dodgers in the tourism sector.

The move comes after reports that the country is losing millions of dollars through under-invoicing and non-remittance of value added tax (VAT) by the operators. Last week the revenue collector seized computers and related documents from several operators while another team visited the tourism haven of Victoria

Falls to look into the operations of tour and adventure operators. The Tourism Ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Dr Sylvester Maunganidze, said the blitz was aimed at ensuring that tour operators and hotels owners respected the laws of the country.

"The operators insist they are not cheating, that they are playing ball and that they are not evading the 2 percent tourism levy. As a ministry we want proper accounting records so that due tax is paid to the Government," he said.

Dr Maunganidze said the blitz was launched after a visit to Victoria Falls five months ago when he noticed that some service providers were under-invoicing guests in their hotels thereby avoiding paying the correct VAT.

He added that after confronting the service providers he was referred to their headquarters in Harare. He questioned why they referred the ministry to their headquarters if they had not broken the law.

Dr Maunganidze explained ZTA as a tourism regulator was entitled to a 2 percent levy from the consumer of the services not the service provider. This was different from VAT due to Zimra for expenses incurred by the guest during his stay, he said.

He encouraged hotel operators to observe the industry regulations if they did not want to be caught on the wrong side of the law and face closure, which would be undesirable given that the country’s tourism sector was on the recovery path.

Zimra officers insist that some operators were not remitting VAT on services booked by Zimbabwean agents while some companies were not redeeming tax from commissions to agents.

"Some operators have gone for close to three years without paying VAT, which is puzzling because it is refundable," said a Zimra officer who asked not to be named.

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