BUUMBA CHIMBULU writes
A TOTAL of K12.9 billion tax refunds were last year paid out to key economic sectors by the Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA), as it commits to pay all due and legitimate arrears through outright cash refunds and tax offsets.
In terms of tax refunds, the authority, during the year, paid a total of K12.9 billion in tax refunds compared to K10.5 billion paid out in 2019, representing a 12.3 per cent growth.
This is according to the ZRA Commissioner General, Kingsley Chanda.
Mr Chanda said yesterday in Lusaka during the press briefing on the performance of the authority and outlook for this year that of the total amount, K8.5 billion (67 per cent) was paid to the mining sector.
“Direct taxes refunds stood at K72.3 million while K163.5 million was refunded under customs.
“The increase in the amount refunded in 2020 is in line with our desire to dismantle all outstanding refunds,” he said.
He said dismantling outstanding VAT refunds and minimising the accumulation of refunds remained one of the key operational priorities for ZRA.
Government, Mr Chanda said, demonstrated its commitments to dismantle arrears by the payment of K700 million worth of VAT refunds from the K8.0 billion Covid-19 bond which Government issued last year.
He expressed optimism that Government’s broader agenda to reduce domestic arrears and inject liquidity into the economy, would result in more resources being made available to ZRA in 2021 to pay outstanding VAT refund claims.
“When we net off the assessments owed by mining companies amounting to K7.1 billion, the net vat refund exposure stands at K9.5 billion. Clearly, we are fully committed to paying all due and legitimate vat refunds through outright cash refunds and tax offsets,” he said.
He also warned that ZRA had pledged to intensify intelligence and surveillance operations to disrupt smuggling activities through use of specialised investigative tools which included drones and digital forensic capabilities.
“Government could have lost over K35 million to smuggling but quick response by the authority through the anti-smuggling unit managed to save the country from the potential revenue loss,” Mr Chanda said.