Zambia’s tax agency said on Tuesday it had uncovered $8 billion tax scam at an unspecified “prominent mining company”, nearly double the total amount the country collected in taxes in last year.
The Zambian Revenue Authority (ZRA) said in a statement it had issued a preliminary tax assessment of 76.5 billion Zambian kwacha ($8.04 billion) to the company for classifying imported goods as mining machinery, which attract no custom duty.
The import duty on items other than mining machinery ranges from 15 to 25 percent, ZRA said in a statement, adding that the company had been engaged in the conduct for the last five years.
“We have since notified both the mining (company) and the clearing agent of this unacceptable act of cheating,” ZRA said, without naming the company or the clearing agent – a company officially getting goods from one country to another.
It did not say whether what it called the “prominent mining company” was foreign or domestic, but there are dozens of mining companies operating in Zambia, mainly extracting copper.
ZRA’s assessment suggests the total value of goods imported goods was between $30 billion and $51 billion if about $8 billion is unpaid levy charged at between 15 and 25 percent.
The announcement comes almost a year after tax chief Kingsley Chanda invited companies and individuals to declare their hidden assets in tax amnesty.
Zambia, which collected 39.1 billion kwacha in taxes last year, netted 4.4 billion kwacha in hidden assets from the amnesty after smaller companies stepped forward, ZRA said, adding that it has started detailed audits on all companies for compliance. ($1 = 9.5100 Zambian kwachas)