Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) has appealed to the Supreme Court against the High Court decision to disallow the Post Newspaper Limited to settle its tax liabilities of over K16 million in six instalments and from seizing its property.
The Lusaka High Court granted a stay of execution to the Post Newspaper against the ZRA’s warrant of distress in which Revenue House was demanding for the immediate settlement of over K16 million owed to the authority because it would result in the company closing.
According to the memorandum of appeal filed in the Supreme Court, ZRA made an application based on four grounds of appeal.
In ground one the appellant stated that the High Court erred in both law and fact when it confirmed the stay of execution which ordered that the Post Newspaper Limited should make itself current with its tax obligations with ZRA within 90 days of disposal of the appeal by the Supreme Court, thereby exceeding its jurisdiction.
In grounds two it was stated that the High Court erred when it disregarded the statutory timeframe within which the Post Newspaper as a taxpayer was supposed to pay its taxes.
In grounds three of the appeal, the appellant stated that the High Court erred in law when it disregarded the principle that taxes are due and payable immediately, notwithstanding an appeal by the taxpayer.
And in the last grounds of appeal, it was stated that the High Court erred in proceeding to grant the stay of execution even after establishing that the Post Newspaper’s intended appeal to the court had no merit.
High Court Justice Mwiinde Siavwapa had ruled that allowing the ZRA to collect at once the K16,924, 395.04 debt would lead to the closure of the company, thereby forcing many of the newspaper workers who had families jobless and on the streets.
The judge said the earlier judgment against the judicial review opened up the newspaper company to ZRA demands for the immediate payment of the entire outstanding debt at once as it was not under consideration under judicial review.
“It is clear that what the applicant is fighting against is not the payment of the outstanding amount due but the demand of the same at once by the Commissioner General.
“It further would not be in the interest of the respondent and the nation to collect outstanding tax at once and for all and render families jobless while an appeal is pending,” he said.
On October 30, 2015, Judge Siavwapa dismissed an application for judicial review over the refusal by the Commissioner General of a proposal on the mode of payment of the outstanding tax by the Post.
This was after the paper defaulted on an initial arrangement to settle the unpaid tax to ZRA which forced the Commissioner General to reject further amendments to the payment plan, leading to ZRA raiding the newspaper offices in Lusaka.
“The applicant (the Post) fears that if the order of stay is not granted, distress will be levied on its core assets which could result into a closedown of its operations,” he said.
The Post owes unpaid taxes of over K16million which the High Court has ordered to be paid in instalments pending a ruling on an appeal to the Supreme Court.
The Post Newspapers had obtained a stay halting the ZRA from seizing its property.