THE Zimbabwe Revenue Authority has been urged to upgrade its online domestic tax systems as it has been causing expensive delays for businesses that want to access their tax clearances.
Speaking at a Stakeholder meeting held in Mutare on Tuesday, businesses said although all tax clearance procedures were now being done online, the tax authority's portals were failing to cope with the demands from clients.
They argued that when one needed a tax clearance urgently, they were forced to wait for Zimra offices to open before being served and this was causing unnecessary delays in their operations.
Zimra Head Audits, domestic taxes Mr Oliver Matarutse acknowledged that the authority's domestic tax ICT systems were not working at optimum performance which has resulted in the delays.
"I need to concede that on the domestic taxes side, we do have some challenges with our ICT and we have advertised an Expression of Interest in the press so that we can have a service provider to give us a tax administration or revenue management system which suits our needs. We have realised that the current system is not giving us what we want. We acknowledge the challenge and we will address it," he said.
He said the intervention would however be a long term solution as changing systems could not be done overnight urging affected business to approach their Zimra offices for help whenever they encounter such problems.
Zimra held the meeting to encourage voluntary compliance with tax collection efforts.
The tax authority has been on an aggressive drive to engage tax payers in an effort to shore up tax compliance levels that have seen only a few businesses bearing the burden of tax in an economy that relies mostly on domestic resource mobilisation to survive.
According to Zimra statistics, not more than 300 000 taxpayers are registered on the tax collector's database, and of that figure, compliance levels are currently at less than 40 percent.
This has resulted in a few taxpayers shielding the tax burden which should be spread evenly among many players.
Speaking at the same event, Minister of State for Manicaland Affairs Dr Ellen Gwaradzimba, who was represented by deputy director in her office Mr Terrence Machocho, encouraged businesses to pay their taxes to reduce the burden of taxes on a few corporates that have been paying their dues and contribute in the improvement of the doing business environment.
Dr Gwaradzimba said it was every Zimbabwean's duty to pay taxes hence the task should not be left to a few individuals.
"Let me emphasise that paying correct duties and taxes is a duty of every citizen of the country so that all share the tax burden," she said.
"Some of our people evade paying taxes not because they do not know, but they are reluctant to comply. To generate revenue for the country, people ought to comply and perhaps negotiate payment mechanisms with Zimra when importing goods and services under each classified sector."
Minister Gwaradzimba lamented the continued effects of smuggling that has deprived Government of millions of dollars in potential revenue.
"It is undeniable that smuggling is a serious scourge which affects Manicaland province due to the numerous undesignated points of entry and a holistic approach, which includes cooperation with the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority is needed to address the matter," she said.
She urged Zimra to continue capacitating citizens with knowledge on the importance of compliance.