Businesses concerned over tax settlement schemes

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Photo: Anteneh Aklilu

The business community expressed its concern regarding the tax settlement scheme if the country goes to lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The businesses that Capital interviewed said that they are preparing for the worst case in relation with the pandemic, while they said that they are confused who will manage their tax like VAT settlements if complete lockdown happened.
They claimed that the country’s online system particularly the e-payment system is very challenging. “If everything will be closed it would be difficult to access banks for the settlement of their expected tax payments,” the business community expressed their concern.
However a tax lawyer told Capital that if the country goes to lockdown the tax authority will not be an exemption, so anyone will not be liable for that.
The business community also said that they would not be comfortable without settling their required payments for the government. “Duties may be delayed because of the current situation but we cannot be comfortable because the tax authority or its auditors shall come with penalty at any time,” they added.
Despite the business community’s claim, the tax authority ridiculed the idea and said its office would be closed any time in the future.
Zemede Tefera, State Minister of Revenue (MoR), said that the ministry or its branches will not be fully closed. He resist that the country will not be closed fully otherwise it would be difficult.
“There is a central committee following the current issue that is the higher body for any decision but as a country if the government does pass a decision to stop daily service for the tax payers then we will abide to it,” he told Capital.
“We are working as usual, while we have minimized about half of the staff due to the outbreak,” he explained.
“We are looking for the tax for the business activities that were conducted before the outbreak or last year,” he added.
He said that the tax payers that would not want any contact shall disclose its tax by e-file and settle the payment on e-payment scheme.
Meanwhile tax payers are claiming that the electronic system is not working. The state Minister said that the tax authority will not have option to collects the tax that the country needs particularly on this time.
On Friday the government has disclosed that it has taken some measures regarding the economy besides other decision.
It said that the macro-economic sub-committee has been undertaking dialogue with key industry stakeholders in various sectors to craft a way forward in safeguarding the economy. Tax exemption for the import of materials and equipment to be used in the prevention and containment of #COVID-19, National Bank of Ethiopia to avail Birr 15 billion liquidity for private banks to enable them to provide debt relief and additional loans to their customers in need, Commercial Bank of Ethiopia to increase the amount of money individuals can transfer through mobile banking, to limit in-person cash handling and Ministry of Revenue to expedite VAT returns to support companies with cash flows are the new measures in addition some other decisions.