FRED M’membe and The Post Newspapers have invested more than US$1 million in Agricultural activities while refusing or neglecting to pay tax obligations to the Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA).
This is despite the fact that in 2011 ZRA waived K16 million from the Post indebtedness in interest and penalties in the hope that the company would settle the indebtedness but the company failed.
Now ZRA wants the outstanding K22 million paid in one installment and feels the company has the capacity to pay.
The Post had not been remitting company tax for the following charge years 2006/2007, 2008/2009 and 2011/2012 and has an outstanding tax debt due on its undertaking for Time to Pay Arrears of Tax, in the Time to Pay Agreement (TPA).
When ZRA demanded for full payment last year, the Post applied for and obtained judicial review which was also acted as a stay of the demand and any subsequent action.
But now ZRA says the Post does not deserve leniency or judicial review because the institution cannot be treated in an exceptional manner as it has even failed to honour previous settlement agreements.
According to submissions in the matter that came before the Lusaka High Court yesterday, the Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) had in 2011 cancelled over K16 million in favour of the Post newspapers in unpaid taxes, but despite the action by ZRA to give the Post and Fred M’membe the waiver, they continued to breach the law by failure to honour the terms of settlement including retaining payments that should have been forwarded to ZRA.
According to the letter written to Fred M’membe on 19th September, 2014, ZRA Commissioner General Berlin Msiska said that the Post Newspaper had neglected to fulfill its obligations by not paying taxes.
“As you are aware in October 2011, we approved your appeal for a waiver of penalties and interest after you successfully paid the principal taxes in installments. Our expectation was that you would be a compliant taxpayer. However, it has come to our attention that you have accumulated another tax liability. You neglected to remain current with your tax obligations and accumulated yet another tax liability,” Mr. Msiska stated in a letter to Mr. M’membe which has also been submitted before High Court Judge Mwiinde Siavwyapa.
Mr. Msiska said that the authority was constrained to accept the proposals made by the Post and Mr. M’membe on the mode of payment of tax because they had continued to breach the law with respect to tax remittance.
“In the premises, we are constrained to accept your proposal to clear your tax liability in installments as there is no compelling reasons for us to once more exercise our discretion and allow you to settle your tax obligations installments. We now demand the immediate payment of the total tax liability of K22, 517, 952, 05 without fail,” said Mr. Msiska.
ZRA stated that it had decided to oppose the proposal to have the Post pay its debt in installments because the Newspaper did not respect agreements.
The institution also stated that in September last year ZRA wrote to the Post Newspapers advising them that they were not remitting or honouring its tax liabilities and that the Post had breached its undertaking to Pay Arrears of Tax, that is the Time to Pay Agreement (TPA) which they had signed.
“The debt arose from the fact that the Post for the period February 2014, to July 2014, was not remitting Value Added Tax (VAT) and Individual Income Tax collected in form of Pay As You Earn (PAYE). We wrote to the Post after a meeting in September that we would not accept the proposal because the Post was not complaint to paying tax.”