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Stop blackmailing small businesses, ZIMRA told

Minister of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) Dr. Sithembiso Nyoni has told the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) to stop blackmailing imminent small businesses into forcibly paying taxes through directing local authorities to demand tax clearance before licensing them, a move that has been described as retrogressive and prohibitive.

Speaking at the Gweru Theatre after a tour of SMEs in and around Gweru recently, Dr Nyoni said ZIMRA has no right to direct local authorities to demand tax clearance certificates from people who seek licenses as it is not the council’s jurisdiction to do so.

She said this while responding to some SMEs attending the briefing who complained that it is hectic to get business licenses as local authorities are demanding ZIMRA tax clearance certificates.

“ZIMRA should collect taxes in a straight forward manner. They should not collect taxes by blackmailing people, because what they are doing in blackmail.

“ZIMRA needs to come out very clearly on levies; levies and taxation for SMEs and it needs to be separate from blackmailing SMEs by linking them to certain conditions that have nothing to do with them,” said Minister Nyoni.

She said ZIMRA is lingering into another Ministry which, if investigated, there is possible corruption happening.

“That is wrong, the Local Authority cannot ask for a ZIMRA certificate because that’s not their department, their criteria of issuing licenses has nothing to do with ZIMRA, if so that means there is corruption happening, there is someone who is paying another.

“ZIMRA belongs to the Ministry of Finance and Local Authorities belong to the Ministry of Local Government so why are they cutting across to administer policies from another Ministry?” She asked.

ZIMRA has recently come under fire for its desperation to enhance revenue collections by using previously unorthodox means such as taxing vendors and churches amongst other strategies.

It is said that ZIMRA is writing letters to councils demanding that it does not issue licenses to people who do not produce tax clearance certificates, of which some of the license seekers are first time applicants.

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