Fiscalisation nightmare

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Scores of companies, including listed entities, that have not yet complied with Finance ministry requirements to fiscalise their operations, could be forced to fork out thousands of dollars in fines and ultimately pushed out of business.

Fiscalised tax registers record sales at the point of sale.

Each tax register is fitted with a memory card that records fiscal data. The data is used by Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) to collect taxes.

All companies with an annual turnover of $240 000 are required by law to install the devices in line with value added tax fiscalised recording of Taxable Transactions Amendment Regulations of 2010.

According to Statutory Instrument 153 of 2011, all companies should have fiscalised by January 1 2012.

“Any person, who fails to comply with section 3 on the fixed date or within any extension of that date granted by the commissioner-general in terms of section 5(5) shall be liable for a civil penalty of $25 per point of sale for each day the taxpayer remains in default not exceeding a period of one hundred and eighty-one days,” reads part of the statutory instrument.

Zimra shall have power to waive the payment or refund the whole or part of any penalty prescribed if it is satisfied the contravention was not wilful.

The statutory instrument adds that if any person continues to be in default after 181 days, they may be imprisoned for a period not exceeding 12 months.

Efforts to get a comment from Zimra were fruitless as they had not responded to questions emailed on Tuesday.

Informed sources in the retail sector told NewsDay this week fiscalisation was a process and not an event. They said there was no need for the Finance ministry to force listed companies whose accounts were audited to move to the new system.

“There are big companies that already have a sophisticated computer system through which Zimra officials can monitor,” sources said.

“This (fiscalisation) is a process that is not necessary. In this environment of capital constraints, we do not see how this will benefit companies. This will not increase productivity in any way,” said a source.

Players in the retail industry said the fiscalisation exercise was probably necessary for entities whose operations were still informal so they could play a significant role in channelling funds through the formal system.

They noted fiscalisation was successful in Kenya because their computerised system was not as advanced as the one Zimbabwe has.

“If fiscalisation is so important, why has South Africa not done it? Besides this fiscalisation is not a simple plug-and-go system. It’s complicated. The ministry should reconsider. Maybe it could have been implemented over a five-year period,” sources said.

“Imagine what would happen to a retail giant with more than 50 branches with at least 10 points of sales if it is forced to pay fines?

“At the end of the day they will be left with no option but to downsize.”