Parading tax defaulters is unlawful, so says BURS

24 Jun 2019

BY CALISTUS BOSALETSWE

A recent trend in which high profile members of the public have been paraded in the media space for acts relating to default in tax payment should be reversed as it is unlawful.

This is according to the acting Commissioner Operations at the Botswana Unified Revenue Service (BURS) - William Nkitseng.

Nkitseng was speaking at the Gaborone City full council meeting which was held at the chambers last week.

Nkitseng said the recent publicised crack-down on individuals who owes BURS has a potential to tarnish BURS relationship with organisations and countries that BURS exchange information with for tax purpose.

The tax man has of late launched a crackdown on a number of high profile people in the country, a trend that did not skip the eye of the much alert local media outlets.

It has however emerged that the parading and subsequent publication of the individuals involved could work against BURS’s secrecy laws. GCC councillors were told that some organisations that BURS exchange information with for tax purpose could blacklist the agency if they find out that it was contravening laws on secrecy.

The admission by BURS officials at the meeting came after GCC councillors raised concerns that there was no longer secrecy on individuals.

Nkitseng told the local authorities that his suspicion is that some government security organs releases information about BURS crackdown to the media.  He further noted that the tax agency employees are aware that it is a criminal offence to leak information about individuals who owes tax.   

“We have been doing this for a long time and the media was not part of the BURS crackdown. It’s not us who do release such information because our laws does not allow us to so” Nkitseng said.

According to Nkitseng the issue has been referred to the investigating officer at BURS and assured councillors that the tax man will treat the issue with respect it deserves.