Oshakati – There is a huge under-collection of taxes among the northern business community which has over 81 000 registered taxpayers but on average only pays N450 per person in tax.
During the 2015/16 financial year government collected a mere N$36 million from taxpayers registered with the Oshakati tax office.
The Oshakati office is the second biggest tax register after Windhoek.
However, the ratio of the taxpayer population for the Oshakati regional office is not in tune with the tax paid.
The Minister of Finance Calle Schlettwein made the revelation at a tax talk with the business community over the weekend at Oshakati.
The event was organised by the Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NCCI) northern branch.
He said even Keetmashoop which has half the population of Oshakati revenue office collects an average of N$1 500 per taxpayer compared to the average of N$450 at Oshakati.
“It cannot be plausibly argued that the combined economic activities for Oshakati Region are significantly less than those of Keetmanshoop. It is an indication that there is under-collection, under-registration or avoidance or something,” he said.
The principal tax debt countrywide now stands at N$4 billion.
“If this amount of revenue could be paid, there would have been no need to cut the expenditure and freeze tenders to the extent made in the budget review,” said the minister.
He said recovery programmes are being carried out in all 14 regions.
The minister encouraged taxpayers with overdue payments to approach the receiver and make repayment arrangements.
Also speaking at the event, the NCCI northern branch chairperson Tomas Indji said the business community is challenged by the mere fact that many cannot afford the services of big renowned auditing companies to audit their books.
“What we are experiencing is that bookkeepers have no knowledge of the provisions of the Income Tax Act, let alone preparing financial statements according to generally accepted accounting practices,” said Iindji.
The business community requested the ministry to educate them on issues related to tax, arguing that under-collection could have resulted from a lack of knowledge.
The minister appealed to the business community to work hand in hand to address tax education.
While the minister agreed that audit services are very expensive, he said it is equally important to ensure that tax discrepancies are resolved,