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Home / NamRA goes for the jugular… workers to lose houses, cars … 48 criminal cases opened

NamRA goes for the jugular… workers to lose houses, cars … 48 criminal cases opened

2023-01-16  Edward Mumbuu

NamRA goes for the jugular… workers to lose houses, cars … 48 criminal cases opened

Workers accused of defrauding the Namibia Revenue Agency are facing the wrath of the law as the taxman has moved to directly deduct from their monthly salaries, without their consent or a court order.

New Era has established that NamRA is now collecting monies from several employees implicated in the N$104 million tax refund scam, chief amongst them Standard Bank employees. 

The local bank did not respond to detailed questions sent to it last week. 

For the past few months, the employees have faced mammoth deductions, so much so that they are now on the brink of defaulting on existing financial obligations, including home and car loans. “Currently, NamRA is deducting money straight from my salary without my consent. Some of my colleagues are being deducted up to N$18 000. The very same bank with which we have loans is facilitating this process and is threatening to repossess our houses and cars, while knowing that they are the ones giving all our money to NamRA. How do they expect us to pay?” asked an affected employee, who preferred anonymity out of fear of victimisation. 

NamRA, on the other hand, is firm in its resolve, saying there is nothing peculiar about their conduct. 

Responding to questions from this publication last week, NamRA’s spokesperson Yarukeekuro Ndorokaze said the long arm of the law has caught up with those who fraudulently claimed tax refunds from the agency. 

“NamRA appointed various employers in Namibia to deduct monies from employees’ salaries, who unjustifiably or fraudulently received income tax refunds which they could not substantiate when requested to provide the documentation under section 64 (1) and (2) of the Income Tax Act… The appointment of the employers as agents is done in terms of section 91 of the Income Tax Act,” he explained.

According to section 91 of the Income Tax Act, an agent (employer in this case), may be required to make payment of any tax due from any monies, including pensions, salaries, wages or any other remuneration, which may be held by him for or due by him to the person whose agent he has been declared to be.

The operation is not unique to Standard Bank employees. NamRA’s tax investigating process starts with the taxpayer being consulted and requested to submit the supporting or source documents, or proof of expenses claimed. 

“To validate tax refunds received by individuals over several years, the provisions of section 64 (1) of the Income Tax Act are applied by NamRA to confirm the legitimacy of income tax refunds received by individuals,” Ndorokaze added. 

He continued: “Failure to submit the requested source or supporting documents concludes that such figure was misrepresented, and hence ab initio nullifies the tax refund. The refund is revised in terms of section 69 of the Income Tax Act, which will convert it into recoverable tax debt”. 

NamRA, it appears, does not need permission from anyone to collect what is owed to it, on behalf of the State. 

“NamRA does not need to apply for a court order, as the provisions of the Namibia Revenue Agency Act 2017 (Act No. 12 of 2017) (NamRA Act) and the Income Tax Act (specifically section 91) provide the legal basis for appointing the employers to deduct money from the salaries of the employees to settle
their tax debt,” he continued, putting to bed
any form of complaints. 

“Once the tax debts exist, it is a debt due to the State, which becomes subject to the tax debt recovery process. The individual is then served with a demand letter for tax payment. If the demand letter for payment is not responded to within the timeframe given and no payment is received from the taxpayer, the tax debt recovery process under section 91 of the Income Tax Act follows, which is the appointment of a third party/employer (agent). 

“The employer is appointed as an agent to deduct an amount from the employee’s salary, and pay such amount in to settle the tax debt of the employee,” the journalist-turned-lawyer explained. Despite the tax debt recovery
process, the concerned taxpayer may still
submit the proof within the allowable period by law, and the tax status of the taxpayer will be amended by NamRA according to the proof submitted.  Last year, NamRA initially detected a N$15.2 million tax refund scam. The amount later jumped to N$104 million. 

The illegal payment of tax refunds is being perpetrated by an internal criminal cabal. 

About 800 taxpayers from around 40 institutions have been fingered as recipients of fraudulently claimed income tax refunds from public and private firms. 

Those implicated include taxpayers earning income from additional sources, such as farming.

“We must stress that NamRA’s primary interest is with the recovery of the funds that were fraudulently refunded to taxpayers,” the lawyer noted. 

So far, 48 criminal cases have been lodged with the Namibian Police. 

“The criminal investigations into the tax refund fraud scheme linked to provisional taxpayers, mostly carrying out farming
activities, is continuing. To date, 48 criminal cases have been lodged with the Namibian Police, with possible arrests to follow as determined by NamPol. Needless to state that NamRA will carry out its mandate of enforcing the revenue and customs laws, and investigate any detected tax fraud cases,” he continued.

2023-01-16  Edward Mumbuu

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