THE Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) says the tax compliance audit on media institutions should not be seen as a witch-hunt but an exercise that may benefit the taxpayers in the industry.

And ZRA says it is still investigating a case where it seized goods that belonged to a Copperbelt-based company believed to have dubiously imported goods into the country.

In an interview, ZRA spokesperson Topsy Sikalinda said the revenue body had been conducting tax audits on different sectors and wondered why such an exercise was a big issue for media when similar inspections had been carried out in the past.

“A tax audit is completely different from those other audits. The tax audits go either way. A good example I would give you is that, you are registered for VAT [but] you have never claimed your refund so those are the things we will teach you (media) because we don’t want you to be losing out. So, there are a lot of positives that can come out of it. So we do audit every time. If you remember last year, we kept on announcing that we are conducting audits in the mining sector, was that a witch-hunt?” Sikalinda asked.

“The audits didn’t start now; the first institution that we audited was the Daily Mail and we are almost concluding now. It doesn’t mean that we have to come to your premises, we are just telling you what we are doing on your account because we have most of the records here. Where we are not sure, we will ask you to verify because you already filed in the returns. We don’t want to do things without telling you, then the next thing, you see us visiting you, no. All our systems are online so COVID-19 is neither here nor there. All media houses, not only media in terms of print, radio and television stations, this includes channel distributors and others, as long it is a media sector. So these were planned last year and every year, we do certain sectors. I don’t know why media has to be a big issue.”

And Sikalinda said there was no new update on the seized goods from a Copperbelt-based company alleged to have smuggled products worth millions of dollars.

Last month, ZRA seized goods from Zamm Imports Limited believed to have been imported dubiously.

The goods were being stored in a large warehouse.

The ZRA also seized nine trucks belonging to Zamm import, but the Authority opted to remain mute on its findings for unexplained reasons

“Investigations are still going on. There hasn’t been any update, unless we close the investigations then at that time, we will say. But in most cases, where a taxpayer is compliant, normally, we decide to give them a bit of respect but if they decide to be funny, that is when we also get funny,” Sikalinda said.

And Sikalinda denied that the Authority had unearthed an US$8 billion mining tax scam, saying all the issues had been resolved.

He said the ZRA had not attached any figure to the tax audits that were conducted on the mines.

“We didn’t say US$ 8 billion, those were figures coming from yourselves as media. I don’t know where the media got them from. We closed all the mining audits and all of them were resolved. Unfortunately, we don’t give you figures because of confidentiality,” said Sikalinda.