‘We want a piece of the church money’

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TAXATION on ecclesiastical organisations’ profit-oriented business activities will come into effect on January 1 next year, the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority has revealed.
In June, Zimra Commissioner-General Gershem Pasi announced before a Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Small and Medium Enterprises and Cooperative Development that the Authority had plans to tax churches.
He indicated that a legislative framework would be in place by November.
Zimra’s board secretary, who is also director for legal and corporate services, Ms Florence Jambwa confirmed the development.
“The requisite legal framework and administrative procedures are being worked on in time for implementation in January 2016 as announced by the Minister of Finance and Economic Development,” she said.
Panic-stricken churches initially thought that the Authority was targeting tithes and offerings.
However, Zimra’s board chairperson Mrs Willia Bonyongwe dismissed the speculation during a weekly business meeting organised by Covenant Business Fellowship, a ministry within New Life Covenant Church.
ZIMRA“We are not going to tax tithes, we are not going to tax offerings. I think churches are doing businesses.(Dr) Bill Winston was here, he has businesses and they are taxed by the IRS (Internal Revenue Service), (Dr) Creflo Dollar(as well) we read about it.
“So it’s the church businesses that are going to be taxed, not the tithes or offerings. There is money that belongs to the church. If you are going to have a trillion dollars, we want a piece of that if it is not in the form of offerings,” Mrs Bonyongwe said.
She added: “Churches are non-profit (making) organisations. Once you have a profit organisation for a non-profit (making) organisation, that has to be separated.
“In fact, most of the profit-making businesses were opened as companies or trusts or whatever, those are the ones targeted. If it is a trust, it’s going to be taxed like all trusts are taxed. If it’s a private limited company it’s going to be taxed as a private limited company.
“This issue was taken out of context (taxing tithes and offerings).”
In recent times, the emergence of wealthy church leaders has attracted the curious eye of the taxman.
Only last month, Zimra officials raided Prophetic, Healing and Deliverance Ministries headquarters in Waterfalls demanding a list of people who benefited from PHD leader’s Prophet Walter Magaya’s donations since he started his ministry.
The main taxes levied by Government through Zimra are the Income Tax, Capital Gains Tax, Withholding Taxes, Employees Tax (PAYE) and Value Added Tax.-Sundaymail