Zimbabwe Taxation

Topics: Tax, Income tax, Progressive tax Pages: 7 (2635 words) Published: March 24, 2012
Write an analysis of the developments of the taxation system in Zimbabwe from pre to post colonial Zimbabwe (25)

The tax system currently enforced in Zimbabwe under the authority of the Income tax Act Chap 23.06 with Acts like the Capital Gains Act Chap 23.01, Finance Act Chap 23.04 and the Excise duties Act as complimentary. The system evolved from traditional ideologies perpetuated from pre pre-colonial era up to now. The incidence of tax from a traditional perspective occurred from as far as the Rozvi State who was allowed to maintain their power and control by the Portuguese Traders which resulted in the development of the tributary system. In which tribute was to be paid in form of farm produce, animal skins, fish and various goods. Every person under the protection of the kingdom and within the chief’s jurisdiction was to pay tribute from their occupational activity. This tributary system was mainly instigated by military control and any person revoking this tradition was punished. This traditional view is reflected in the modern tax system as there are some synonymous traits which have of course been duly developed over time. The presence of the British settlers saw the tax system being inclined towards politics and social classes or race in other words. In 1894 Hut Tax was introduced and was set at 10 shillings per hut and this tax was imposed on each adult male. The tax was paid to the British South Africa company which was the agent of the colonial government in the area even though it was initially authorised by the Colonial Office in London. Hut Tax was paid in the form of money, labour, grain or livestock and the colonial Authorities in this case the British were the beneficiaries. This tax benefited the white minority as they raised money, enhanced their economy’s liquidity (cash wise, thus supporting the currency), facilitating further development of the white minority. The whole purpose of a tax system to benefit the people at large through the services provided by the government was rather defeated as the greater proportion of tax was paid by the black majority for the benefit of the white minority. Poll tax was also another type of tax introduced by the colonial authorities again aimed at the male adult. It was set at 1 pound per male adult; 10 shilling tax on each excess wife was also introduced. Administering of tax policies was mainly set to compel the African to surrender his labour power to the settler economy so as to depend on them for the money with which they could meet their tax obligation. Initially Blacks owned the most cattle, sheep, had a bigger population thus consumed more meaning more sales tax was expected to be paid. Under the bid to frustrate black expectations of prospering and to reduce the chance of them gaining economic advantage over the whites a host of other taxes were recommended by the Southern Rhodesia Native Affairs Committee (these were later approved). The recommendations were made up of a plot to: * Introduce Dog tax

* Implementing the taxation of all cattle
* The continuation of poll tax
* Progressive taxation of polygamous wives
* A marriage fee of 5 pounds was to be set to be paid by the husband with an allowable remittance of 5 shillings for every month worked for a European Employer. (African Heritage,pg 65)

At face value without any need for a comprehensive analysis it is quite evident that accumulating more of anything from cattle, increase in consumption, children and even another wife meant more tax due to be paid to the colonial authorities. Cattle tax was to be paid on the cattle owned by the people and dog tax likewise had to be paid for every dog kept. Penalties were applied through acts of confistication of cattle on most cases. The Southern Rhodesian Tax Ordinance of 1918 was not very different from the tax policies...

References: 1. AFRODAD ( AFRICA FORUM & NETWORK ON DEBT AND DEVELOPMENT) A critical look on the Zimbabwean tax system, 2011
3. www.zimra.co.zw
5. Income Tax Act [chap 23.06]
6. www.historyofzimbabwe.com
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