TAX evasion is tantamount to committing murder and is a serious crime against the State, hence the need for tax compliance by all institutions, Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) commissioner general Kingsley Chanda has warned.
And the Authority has warned all business entities that evade tax to be compliant and choose between remaining in business by paying taxes or continue cheating and prepare to go to jail.
Speaking at a press conference in Lusaka, Mr Chanda said paying taxes was the basic civic responsibility of all citizens and also a compulsory duty to support the Government.
“Without tax revenue you can’t have a country. Therefore, evading tax is tantamount to committing murder and it is a serious crime against the State.
“As ZRA, it is our mandate to ensure that tax evasion is minimised if not eradicated at all cost and I will ensure that this is done without fear or favour,” he said.
Mr Chanda also said ZRA would soon mount an aggressive nationwide tax collection crusade targeted at retailers which would land tax evaders in jail.
He warned retailers and other tax evaders to put their houses in order before ZRA pounced on them during the exercise starting this week and where the Authority’s intelligence and investigations would work throughout the week, day and night, and pounce on tax-evaders at random.
“To all businessmen and women throughout the country that have opted not to pay taxes, your illegal tax “holiday is over”, from now onwards, you must choose between remaining in business and doing the right things or continue cheating and prepare to go to jail.
“We will soon mount an aggressive nationwide tax collection crusade. If you are found with no records, duplicate receipt books or indeed found not to be issuing any receipts at all, we will not spare you,” he said.
Mr Chanda, however, said ZRA wanted to build a trustworthy relationship with taxpayers and not to be seen as a “bully” institution shielding in the law to harass business.
“Much as the Authority is mandated to collect revenue by “all means” we cannot collect taxes from people if our relationship with them is bad. ZRA wants taxpayers to be free with the Authority at any time to present their needs.
“It is a fallacy for us to expect to be recognised as a beacon of excellence in revenue administration when taxpayers view us as an enemy. This shall change, I promise,” he said.