By Hileni Nembwaya
MANY businesses in the north are said to be cheating the Government out of millions of dollars by not paying their fair share in taxes.
According to Finance Minister Calle Schlettwein, the taxpayer population ratio for Oshakati regional office contrasts vastly with the amount of tax paid.
Schlettwein made these remarks during the ‘Tax Talk to the taxpayers and talk to us’ gala dinner hosted by the Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NCCI) northern branch at Oshakati, last week.
“This information suggests that there is a lot to be desired about the level of compliance, full disclosure for tax purposes and more taxpayer education. Opportunities for tax avoidance should be closed,” he said.
According to the tax administration information to date, Oshakati regional office has the second highest tax register in the country, after the Windhoek regional office; and in terms of tax collection, Oshakati regional office is said to be at fifth out of the eight tax regions.
Schlettwein noted that for the financial year 2015/16, out of the total register of 81 114 taxpayers for Oshakati, only N$36,86 million was collected, equating to an average of only N$450 per taxpayer.
Out of the total number of taxpayers for the whole tax region, only 22 taxpayers are large taxpayers.
“This compares to, for example, the Keetmanshoop Region, with a tax register less than half of Oshakati Region, but brings in about N$1,527 per taxpayer. It cannot be plausibly argued that the combined economic activities for Oshakati Region are significantly less than those of Keetmanshoop,” said Schlettwein.
He further noted that the ministry will relentlessly pursue the tax objective to ensure that all potential taxpayers are brought in the tax net and the right amount of tax due is collected.
Another equally important requirement is of book keeping and maintaining timely and accurate records to support filling and declaration of income and expenses for tax purposes.
“I am aware that there are a number of concerns being expressed and varying levels of willingness to fully declare taxable income and pay the commensurate tax. I am also aware that there are concerns raised regarding the timeliness and adequacy of taxpayer services provided to the taxpayer community. I am aware that issues of equity and fairness arise, if and when those who should pay tax don’t do so, or at least not fully. I am aware that taxpayers or potential taxpayers who have not been fully compliant tend to protest the payment of an amount of tax due when proper assessment and audit are brought to their doorsteps,” he said.
Schlettwein’s remarks come after he announced that the Government is owed at least N$4 billion in outstanding tax returns by businesses. The huge debts is said to have been accruing from way back when Namibia gained its independence 26 years ago.
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