THE Law Society of Zimbabwe (LSZ) has been exempted from paying value added tax (VAT) by Supreme Court judge, Justice Lavender Makoni, who ruled that the services offered by the legal practitioners’ body, under the development programmes, qualify for exemption.
BY CHARLES LAITON
The ruling was delivered on July 11, 2018, bringing to an end the wrangle between the LSZ and the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra).
In June 2017, the LSZ petitioned the court, seeking a declaratory order that it enjoys immunity from tax in terms of section 11(b) of the VAT Act regarding to the professional development programme fees it collects from its members.
It was the LSZ’s argument that in terms of section 11(b) of the VAT Act, it enjoys exemption from VAT obligation in respect of subscriptions, practising certificate fees and professional development programme fees it charges to its members.
LSZ argued that it charges and collects subscriptions and practicing certificate fees approved by Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs minister for the regulation of the legal profession.
But Zimra had on several occasions besieged the LSZ’s offices demanding that the latter pay VAT from the cash it was collecting from the professional development programme fees.
“As already stated, it is common cause that the applicant (LSZ) is a non-profit making organisation. I will now proceed to look at the second element regarding supply of donated goods … in my view the services offered by the applicant under the professional development programmes qualify for exemption in terms of section 11(b) of VAT Act,” Justice Makoni said.
“It appears the respondent (Zimra) is missing the point being made by the applicant. The councillors are the donors and the applicant is the recipient. The applicant is distributing donated services in that councillors deliberate and consider every case submitted to the applicant. They do not get paid. It is that service which is exempt from VAT and not the payments being made by the members of the applicant.”