The Vice President of Zimbabwe, Phelekezela Mphoko has lashed out at the country’s revenue authority for taxing churches under its new Income Tax Act signed into law by President Mugabe last year.
The Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) posted on its website that churches and religious organisations are required to pay tax per the legislation or would be forced to pay penalties.
The Vice President condemned the directive saying that by virtue of the church paying tithes, they were already paying tax.
How do you tax churches? They pay tithes to God and you go on to tax them. I surely don’t understand that.
“Churches in actual fact pay tithes to God and they have a way of doing it and therefore I believe taxing them is something strange. Churches should only pay tithes to God and as a Christian I don’t think it’s the right thing,” he is quoted by local media on Sunday.
“How do you tax churches? They pay tithes to God and you go on to tax them. I surely don’t understand that,” Mphoko added.
The legislation in force defines a company liable to taxation to include “any ecclesiastical, charitable or educational institution” that gets income from trade or investment.
According to the revenue authority, churches are not exempt from the payment of Value Added Tax (VAT). They are expected to pay the tax when purchasing or consuming certain goods and services subject to tax.
During the country’s 2015 National Budget presentation in July last year, the finance minister announced the taxing of churches among other austerity measures to be taken by the state.
The Finance and Economic Development Minister Patrick Chinamasa had stated categorically that the tax would be on their income-generating projects as they earn much income from them.