Two stories – from Zimbabwe and Nigeria – again illustrate the often complicated relationship between Africa’s mobile operators and its tax collectors.
In what might be good news for Zimbabwean operators – and customers – the Zimbabwean central bank has proposed removing a 2% tax on mobile money and digital transactions, saying it will boost electronic payments in the country.
Zimbabwe imposed the tax on mobile money, electronic, and bank transfer transactions in 2019.
However, as ITWeb Africa points out, the mobile money tax is proving a good source of income for the government at the moment, although operators may be heartened by the fact that not only the central bank but the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce wants an end to the mobile money levy.
There's less (potentially) positive news for pan-African operator the MTN Group, which has been ordered to pay US$72.6 million in back taxes for the period between 2007 and 2017, in Nigeria, its biggest market.
The order was issued this week by Nigeria's Tax Appeal Tribunal in Lagos, and follows a long-running story that began in 2021 when the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) issued a VAT assessment of US$93.5 million to MTN Nigeria in July 2021, which included US$72.5 million in principal liability and US$21million in penalties and interest on the principal sum.
Following an MTN Nigeria objection a revised assessment was issued. A second objection followed and was refused in June 2022. Now, the Nigerian Tax Appeal Tribunal has ruled in favour of FIRS and ordered MTN to settle the assessed tax liabilities.
The MTN Group is reportedly currently considering its response.