TANZANIA Revenue Authority (TRA) yesterday directed the mobile phone companies to collect the SIM card tax as per Finance Act of 2013, saying it has so far not received any official communication against the enforcement of Act.
TRA Director of Taxpayer Services and Education Richard Kayombo, in an interview with the 'Daily News' in Dar es Salaam said, "We have had no instruction to the contrary and we had to remind them (mobile phone firms) of their obligation to remit the money in accordance with the law."
The National Assembly endorsed the Finance Bill of 2013, introducing a 1,000/- monthly excise duty on each SIM card and entrusted the mobile phone firms with the task to deduct the amount from their subscribers and remit it to the government's revenue collection agency.
Mobile services operators have lodged an appeal to the Tax Appeal Tribunal against the matter. The operators--Tigo, Airtel, Zantel, Tanzania Telecommunications Company (TTCL) and Vodacom Tanzania--under their umbrella body, Mobile Operators Association of Tanzania (MOAT) appealed after it exhausted other options to stop enforcement of the law.
"It was our duty to remind them (mobile phone operators) to remit the money because they are merely our agents in collecting the tax as stipulated in the law," Mr Kayombo said.
The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs, Dr Servacius Likwelile declined to comment on the matter yesterday pending the appeal. "We cannot say anything for the time being," said Dr Likwelile.
Added Likwelile, "We know we have a new Finance Act that was endorsed in Parliament... we know that the mobile phone companies will act as our agents in collecting the tax but we cannot say any more after the appeal was lodged."
An official with MOAT said they had appealed to the Tax Appeal Tribunal because the government had not communicated to them on their proposal for other options to raise the required amount of money apart from tax on the SIM cards.
The government formed a committee to look into the matter after MOAT met President Jakaya Kikwete and mobile phone operators did draft proposals for alternative sources of the required amount. "But, so far we haven't heard a word from the government," said the official.
Mobile phone companies have not started collecting the taxes from their customers, the official said.