Amnesty for tax cheats.

Author:Chimunhu, John
Position:Zambia
 
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In a bid to increase revenue for taxation, the Zambian Minister for Finance and Economic Development, Ronald Penza has promised companies an amnesty on undeclared direct taxes, customs duty, VAT, and other duties. However companies have to apply for amnesty before the end of March. Mr Penza added: "the amnesty gives businesses the chance to begin afresh to operate legally under our new tax laws. We, as a listening government, are persuaded that the time is now right to introduce a once-for-all tax amnesty in Zambia."

Tax evasion, by both foreign and local businesses, has been escalating over the past two years. Mr Penza's gesture is a last throw of the dice to stem the tide. "If business and individuals do not take this one chance, any one caught after 31 March 1998, who has not made full disclosure, will be dealt with a lot more severely than before," he warned.

The penalties, after the once-for-all tax amnesty is over, will include maximum fines imposed by the Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA). In addition, Mr Penza said: "Investors will have their investment licences revoked, non-Zambians will have their residence and employment permits withdrawn ... any arrears will be collected immediately and, if necessary, the business assets removed and sold or the company liquidated."

Mr David Child, commissioner general of the ZRA, said the authority will not be overly punitive, as is feared in many business circles. "We are going to be very fair and objective, because what we are aiming at is giving...

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