The Zimbabwe Revenue Authority is demanding that teachers who received supplemental pay from school development associations report such income and pay taxes on it, infuriating teachers unions and Education Minister David Coltart.
Union sources said Revenue Authority officials are visiting schools and demanding that teachers account for all of the so-called incentive payments they have received from school associations since 2009.
They said Revenue Authority officials have indicated they are reviewing teachers monthly earnings for the past two years and will send them bills for additional taxes.
Union representatives said they have asked the Ministry of Education to intervene and are also engaging the Revenue Authority in a bid to halt the exercise.
It was not clear how the authority proposes to tax teachers who were paid in kind – for instance buckets of maize, goats and other kinds of food and livestock.
Education Minister Coltart said the Revenue Authority was ill-advised in its initiative as incentives are considered nontaxable gifts derived from school associations. “If it thinks that this is a long-term source of income, they are mistaken,” Coltart said.
Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe General Secretary Raymond Majongwe said the attempt to tax teacher incentives is nonsensical.
Scorning the Revenue Authority initiative, Majongwe said tax collectors "must go to teachers who were given a bucket of potatoes and say give us five sweet potatoes and those who received chicken and also demand a few chicks because they must be seen to be dealing with this thing in a uniform manner.”
The government recently boosted civil service salaries with the lowest paid workers now earning US$253 a month, well below the poverty level of US$502 for a family of five.