Following numerous failed interventions to sensitise the public to pay their taxes, it has come to the attention of the Namibia Revenue Agency that a number of companies and individuals have been declaring null or zero tax returns, as a result, the agency has declared war to root out tax evasion in the country.
The agency’s Commissioner, Sam Shivute revealed yesterday in an exclusive interview during his courtesy visit to President Hage Geingob at state house that they have developed a Tax Law Enforcement Strategy and established a Centralised Investigation Enforcement Unit.
The enforcement intervention activities he said do not only apply to certain industries or regions. Shivute added that the commitment by Namra officials is set in motion to ensure that everyone pays their fair share of taxes.
“We have noted that there is a couple of companies in this country that have been getting tenders, some from the government and some from public enterprises and they have been declaring null return or zero return, “said the agency Commissioner.
He indicated that they are now opening tax evasion criminal cases, especially against companies where the agency has collected clear information or evidence showing that they are committing crimes.
Shivute said they are not only registering criminal cases, but they are also monitoring to see when a certain amount is paid into an account of a company or individual under tax evasion, adding that they are working closely with other law enforcement agencies.
They will then ensure that these accounts are frozen and the money is directly taken from their account and paid into state coffers, with emphasis that this is done according to the law as provided.
“This is really working very well and I think they are getting the message, however, we also have a situation of those who have been getting tax refunds that they are not entitled to, which is fraudulent tax refunds, on that we are making good progress so far,” explained Shivute.
The Commissioner further reiterated that their strategy is to optimize revenue collection, as they seek to improve voluntary compliance and therefore encourage those who may have falsely declared, especially those who submitted null returns.
He emphasized that they have been given an opportunity to put their houses in order, do proper declarations, and pay what is due by the end of June.
“My investigation team this week they are busy with bigger investigations when they come back, they are then going to focus on those who did not rectify their null returns and then criminal cases will be open with the police and also make sure that where ever they see that such individuals or companies have money.
They will apply the notice of section 91 of the income tax act and take the money directly because the time of negotiating is over, our patience is running out,” said Shivute.
Meanwhile, the agency’s Chief Strategic Communications and Support Engagements Yarukeekuro Steven Ndorokaze indicated that significant progress has been recorded in the investigation of the fraudulent income tax refund scam that began in March 2022.
He said that as of 18 July 2023, their investigations have implicated a total of 1,168 taxpayers, employed at 84 institutions, encompassing private companies,Government Offices, Ministries and Agencies (O/M/A’s) as well as public institutions.
The total refund amount under scrutiny has surged from the initial amount of N$15 million (March 2022) to N$833 million, a substantial increase from the N$136 million reported in January this year.
He stressed that NamRA’s relentless efforts in the recovery process have yielded N$19.9 million through intensive recovery interventions.
In line with its commitment to accountability, they have issued 322 demand letters. According to section 91 of the Income Tax Act No. 24 of 1981, 302 notices to agents have been issued, amounting to N$55 million.
To date, 56 criminal cases have been registered with the Namibian Police. Thus far, only five suspects have been arrested and charged. More suspects are expected to be arrested in the coming weeks.