Fertiliser company challenges tax bill

A CHEMICAL and fertiliser manufacturing company has challenged in court a US$3 million tax bill saying it does not reflect what was paid.

A CHEMICAL and fertiliser manufacturing company has challenged in court a US$3 million tax bill saying it does not reflect what was paid.

Omnia Fertiliser Zimbabwe has challenged the revised bill which had been initially pegged at over US$14 million for the 2020 and 2022 period.

In its High Court challenge, the company cited the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra), Stanbic Bank, First Capital Bank, Standard Chartered Bank, Central Africa Building Society, Ecobank and MetBank Zimbabwe as respondents.

The banks are cited because of being the applicant’s bankers.

Omnia filed an urgent chamber application seeking an interdict against the Zimra order that it pays US$3 895 734,12 pending finalisation of the matter.

According to court papers, the applicant alleges that it duly submitted its income tax assessments for the period 2020 to 2022 within the stipulated deadlines.

The company said it paid ZWL183 392 906 in full and a further US$180 000 in an attempt to reach an amicable settlement with the tax authority.

Omnia said Zimra on April 28, 2023 issued tax assessments covering 2020 to 2022 reflecting that the company had wrongly computed its tax obligations.

Zimra presented a tax bill of US$14 442 763 including penalties. Upon receiving the bill, Omnia and Zimra conducted roundtable meetings and the bill was revised downwards to US$3  895 734.

On December 4 last year, Omnia wrote to Zimra requesting a stay of collection of the amount due. The applicant was, however, advised to settle the tax debt of US$3 895 734 while waiting for the commissioner’s determination.

Omnia argued that there was no law that stops the company from approaching the High Court to delay payment of the claimed amount pending finalisation of the dispute.

In her determination, High Court judge Justice Emilia Muchawa, however, said the matter was not urgent.

“It is argued that the urgency in this matter is self-created as it is arising from the applicant’s unlawful conduct in failing to pay tax due timeously and all the first respondent is doing is to enforce the law,” Justice Muchawa said.

“If the court were to grant the relief sought, it is averred that would be tantamount to the court suspending the operation of a valid law and barring the first respondent [Zimra] from carrying out a legal obligation.”

The judge then struck the case off the roll.

“It is, however, the attempt to have this court intervene and suspend collection measures in the face of the provisions of Section 58 and Section 69 of the Act which this court cannot be drawn into on the premise that the first respondent has resorted to self-help,” the judge ruled, while stating that Zimra was simply enforcing the law.

“Having made the above finding, the applicant’s argument that the courts always come to the aid of a party who is at the mercy of another who takes the law into their own hands and embarks on self-help, falls away,” Muchawa added.

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