Windhoek-The Namibia Institute of Professional Accountants (NIPA) has appealed for government to extend the deadline for the current amnesty for taxpayers.
This request comes in the wake of an announcement made by Finance Minister Calle Schlettwein concerning the tax recovery programme for taxpayers’ arrears which will end on July 31, 2017.
“We believe it’s very difficult for taxpayers to participate in the incentive scheme, as to qualify, the exact capital amount and payment is required by the 31st July before they can apply for amnesty,” stated Essie Herbst, CEO of NIPA.
“Many taxpayers are unaware of the amount they owe, as they have not been assessed and assessment is a lengthy process.”
Demonstrating concern not only for taxpayers, but for all businesses, their future and families, Herbst states that the smaller business market represents about 10 percent of GDP, contributing to 46 percent of the employment market and 21 percent of households in Namibia.
NIPA further stresses that the economy is severely traumatised by the recession and that its focus has been to survive the negative impact on cash flow and retain their employees. Many smaller businesses have already closed since January this year and some are soon to face closure.
“This will also affect many pensioners who have long since retired, and have outstanding returns, and payments. Individuals that have been retrenched will also be affected,” adds Herbst.
Furthermore, NIPA in consultation with its 178 members, have recently received an overwhelming response from close to 20 000 taxpayers, who have said they do not understand the incentive programme, but once explained, indicated that they would like to participate, yet they do not qualify to apply.
This is a clear indication of the need to grant taxpayers more opportunity to settle their affairs in a reasonable time, the institute said.
NIPA says it acknowledges and appreciates the role that the Ministry of Finance has taken in recovering debt, and granting taxpayers an opportunity to settle outstanding taxes.
However, NIPA believes that the ministry should carry out their duty to practice administrative justice, as prescribed in Article 18 of the Namibian Constitution that states that administrative bodies and administrative officials shall act fairly and reasonably and comply with the requirements imposed upon such bodies and officials by common law and any relevant legislation.
To ensure full participation from tax payers, NIPA is recommending that payment of outstanding debt by taxpayers currently registered under the scheme to have time extended to the 31st December 2018 to settle debt.
New entrants to the programme should be given the chance to adhere to the same deadline. Herbst further adds that the Receiver of Inland Revenue should grant all taxpayers with outstanding capital balances, an affordable repayment schedule based on terms discussed individually between the Receiver of Inland Revenue and the taxpayer.
“We believe that most taxpayers want to pay, but do not have the financial means to settle full amounts immediately,” she said.
Advising taxpayers, NIPA has also urged individuals and businesses to come forward, make the capital payments and apply for the incentive programme. “If they know their affairs are not in order, they should approach a professional accountant for assistance,” Herbst states.