Zimra, Churches in standoff over taxes

Report by Ndoro Nyashadzashe and Vanessa Mhizha

The Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) and the local churches have failed to reach an agreement over the payment of taxes.

Discussing with different church organizations at a breakfast meeting held at Meikles Hotel on Friday, ZIMRA Commissioner (Domestic Taxes) Rameck Masaire urged the churches to pay taxes citing that they are mandated to administrate the law as provided by the government.

Masaire was asked on how a pastor can be taxed when he or she does not have a fixed pay or a pay date.

How can I be taxed when I am not like a civil servant, I do not have a pay date and sometimes we are paid when the money is available or groceries,” asked a pastor.

Masaire said that the church has to pay taxes on anything that they operate with as well as to adjust its administration so as to adapt to ZIMRA’s taxation systems.

“The church has to pay tax on anything that it operates with as well as adjusting its administration so as to accommodate issues of taxation and pay dates,” he said.

In regards to items sold in the church Masaire made it clear taxation depends on the amount made from selling those items.

“Taxation of the things that are sold by the church depends on the amount that the church has realized,” he said.

Masaire was asked what currency will ZIMRA tax for items sold in foreign currency.

We sometimes sale our books on Amazon and when our money comes as foreign currency, how then are you going to tax us?” asked by another pastor.

In response, Masaire said, “All items sold before 23 June if they were sold in foreign currency then the tax payable is also in foreign currency but if it is after that stipulated date then it is in Zimbabwean dollars.