The Ministry of Finance says only 90,000 tax payers have registered on its Integrated Tax Administration System (Itas) online tax portal from a targeted 700,000 since its launch in January this year.
The system according to the ministry, is meant to make tax services accessible 24 hours a day, and to ensure that taxpayers submit their tax information in the most convenient way possible.
“The system is still running and we are still receiving tax payers coming in to be assisted with registration on the system. To date over 90,000 out of 700,000 taxpayers are registered as portal users. As far as the target is concerned our moto is to have every tax payer registered on time and our office, through the established Call Centre, will forever be open to assist those who will experience registration and any other tax related challenges,” Ministry of Finance Chief Public Relations Officer, Tonateni Shidhudhu, said.
He said Windhoek to date has recorded the highest number of tax payers registered on the platform with Rundu recording the lowest.
“We have clustered the 14 political regions into six and so far, the Windhoek Regional Office has registered the most and the least was recorded at the Rundu Regional Office. Note: one has to consider tax payers’ population. Windhoek office has the highest tax payer population in the country whereas Rundu is the least populated office. Hence these figures do not present any bias in the overall registration,” Shidhudhu said.
The finance ministry spokesperson also attributed some technical challenges faced by those intending to register online for the slow uptake of the treasury initiative.
“The challenge is mainly experienced by tax payers who were registered on the old system. The old system did not require the Tax Identification Number (TIN) as it is now being required on the current system and this is causing troubles to some. Also, people whose identity numbers have changed, especially those with old South African ID Cards, if these ID numbers are not corresponding, the system will automatically reject it. So, we are encouraging our tax payers to visit our offices to update the information on their files,” he said.
“Also, tax payers are still giving incomplete Tax Identification Numbers (TIN), which starts with a zero. There seems to be confusion on this number and we want to make it clear that your TIN always starts with zero. If a person is using the number from the text message received from us, that number already starts with a zero and there is no need to add another zero, otherwise it will not be accepted by the system. These are some of the hiccups that are hindering the process, but we are working on it to ensure that the process runs smoothly.”
Quizzed if the Ministry ensures that Chinese owned business are registered as tax payers, especially those operating in Chinatown and mainly require customers to pay cash and are reluctant to issue receipts, Shidhudhu said, “ Registration for tax purpose is a responsibility of every entity and individual that operates and receive income from a taxable source within Namibia. Therefore, the department encourages such operators to come and register so that they can pay the tax due as required by law.”
He said the Tax Intelligence Unit under the Inland Revenue Department continues to investigate cases of tax evasion, with cases being referred for prosecution.
“The Tax Intelligence Unit under the Inland Revenue Department has been working hard to investigate the cases reported to the Ministry, through the Prosecutor General (PG) office. The PG has opened criminal cases against the suspects in order to bring those evaders to book and for those who think they will continue to evade paying tax. Further, we would like to emphasize that this should serve as a warning to them.”