THE Post Newspaper, currently embroiled in tax defaults of up to K27 million in unpaid taxes, may have also enjoyed a K16 million Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) debt write-off in 2011 under unclear circumstances which it accumulated during President Levy Mwanawasa’s era.
The K16 million tax debt is said to have been written off when the Patriotic Front (PF) formed government in 2011 and sources from within ZRA say it was unbelievable that the newspaper could easily be pardoned over such a huge amount of money.
Zambia Revenue Authority sources have since called on appropriate investigating agencies to conduct a forensic audit into the tax affairs of the Post Newspaper to discover the level to which the newspaper was indebted to the Zambian people.
“Even as the Post Newspaper championed the corruption fight, it took advantage of political patronage to fail meeting its tax obligations,” the source told the Daily Nation.
Sources have revealed that the Post Newspaper indebtedness accumulated to more than K31 million in unpaid taxes to ZRA because the newspaper company had not been meeting its tax obligations from 1996 and when the revenue authority was about to seize the assets, the newspaper started paying.
At that time, the Zambia Revenue Authority conducted an assessment of how much the Post Newspaper owed and it was discovered that the newspaper had been avoiding to adhere to tax laws and had accumulated K31 million over the stated period.
Sources from within ZRA have revealed that the K27 million for which the revenue authority raided the Post Newspaper on Tuesday was but a tip of the iceberg because according to records, the newspaper had not been tax compliant for the last 18 years.
The source has revealed that after the Post Newspaper was threatened with seizure of its properties, they commenced paying and the amount was reduced to K16 million which was written off in circumstances that are still not clear.
The Daily Nation has equally been informed that the Post Newspaper had resisted to settle the K31 million at the time and that the newspaper was taken to the Revenue Appeals Tribunal (RAT) which ordered ZRA to collect the money.
It is said that the Post placed an injunction against the decision of the Revenue Appeals Tribunal after which they started paying and the tax debt was eventually reduced to K16 million which has since been written off.
During the Rupiah Banda administration, there was a decision that the Post should pay its ZRA tax debt but the decision was overtaken by events following the loss of the MMD in the 2011 general elections which saw the PF take over government.
The source said the Post Newspaper had a history of taking advantage of situations and that over the years, it had taken advantage of its relationship with successive governments to avoid adherence to tax laws.
On Tuesday, the Zambia Revenue Authority and the Zambia Police raided the Post Newspapers Limited offices along Bwinjimfumu Road for avoiding to meet its tax obligations which has over the years accumulated to a whopping K26,856,230.91 in unpaid taxes.
The Post Newspaper had earlier pleaded with the ZRA to settle its more than K26 million unpaid taxes in Income tax, Pay as You Earn and Value Added Tax through its monthly sales, claiming that the newspaper was making in excess of K4 million in its circulation.
But the newspaper on Tuesday prevented the full seizure of its assets by obtaining a stay, thwarting ZRA and the Zambia Police from confiscating any of its properties.