MULTIPLE taxes imposed on businesses and dishonesty among Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) officials featured prominently at a meeting between President John Mgufuli and traders at the State house in Dar es Salaam yesterday.
Businesspeople, who attended the meeting, complained about the number of taxes they were forced to pay in running their companies, telling the President that it was one of the hindrances affecting their businesses.
One of the businesspeople, Mr Augustine Makole from Mwanza, complained that he had to pay 20 different taxes, saying that service levy in Mwanza was run by threats, claiming that when tax officers came knocking, they were usually accompanied by heavily armed police officers, which created a negative picture and demoralised to continue doing business.
Mr Makole said tax assessment was usually higher than the reality, claiming that the way they calculated service levy left a lot to be desired because they were normally charged higher than their business capital.
He explained that this made traders hate the government. Mr Atul Mittal, one of the directors of Mount Meru Millers Limited, told the President that he had to pay over 40 different taxes.
“For example, Tanzania Bureau of Standards (TBS) allows crude oil in the market, while Tanzania Food and Drugs Authority (TFDA) do not. There are many more examples of this system, which creates conflict because it is obvious that there are some government officials, who generate money from it,” he noted.
Mr Mittal added that there were some government officials who, apart from being rude and used threatening language, were only interested in enriching themselves and boasting of the number of companies they had closed.
“I admit that there is a possibility that some of our companies have some faults, but even after imposing the punitive measures, the officials don’t bother offering education about how to improve and avoid mistakes, not knowing that such acts hindered the running of these companies, including getting bank loans and the market,” asserted Mr Mittal.
For his part, Dr Basil Tweve, a timber dealer from Mufindi in Iringa Region, requested for a reduction in taxes, claiming that currently he had to pay over 19 different taxes and levies.
He said that it would be more appropriate and meaningful to traders if the government introduced a one-stop centre system, where they could pay the required taxes once and for all.
“A tree on a farm is charged 14 per cent on VAT and another per cent of VAT is charged after being processed,” he said, requesting the government to improve the system so that businesspeople could not evade tax.