By TOPSY SIKALINDA
Tax information is confidential company information. It is therefore important that taxpayers take due diligence in keeping their information safe. For Zambia Revenue Authority, as a custodian of tax information, the issue of confidentiality is taken seriously.
This is because the Authority realizes that correct information in the wrong hands is dangerous and detrimental to the owner of the information. In this regard, all tax matters are treated with the utmost confidentiality to safeguard taxpayers’ information.
As we may be aware, taxpayers’ information is confidential under the various tax laws the Authority administers. For instance, under the provisions of Sections 21 of the ZRA Act, Cap 321; Section 175 of the Customs and Excise Act, Cap 322; Section 8 of the Income Tax Act, Cap 323; and Section 37A of the Value Added Tax Act, Cap 331, it is a criminal offense to extract, copy or print taxpayer data and submit it to any unauthorized entity.
To protect taxpayers whose information is in our custody, this is why we always endeavor to exhibit high levels of integrity and confidentiality in our information dissemination dealings.
To make sure that company information goes only to the intended recipients, we always carry out some basic checks when people communicate with us via various platforms to seek for example change of login credentials or change of official contact details about a company or simply to carry out any requested change on tax account.
In this technological era, taxpayers get to communicate with the Authority regarding their tax issues via different platforms such as telephone, email, hard copy letters, and sometimes through official social media platforms. As much as these are the official communication channels, technology has also made it very difficult to ascertain whether the one initiating the communication is the officially authorized person for the company.
So with such circumstances how do companies safeguard their confidential tax information? As we endeavor to protect taxpayers’ information it is also expected that taxpayers take precautions in safeguarding their confidential tax information.
Here are the few tips that may be helped:
1. Safeguarding company login credentials to your TaxOnline account. This will ensure that there the credentials don’t end up in the wrong hands thereby exposing the company. If the company feels unauthorized person may have access to the credentials the company needs to immediately change the credentials.
2. Update the contact details of the contact immediately there is a change so that any communication goes to the correct company details. The contact details include company email, phone numbers, and address.
3. Communicate with the Authority immediately there is a change in terms of the authorized person managing the company’s tax account. This may be the accountant or the tax agent responsible for filing company returns.
4. For those companies that use tax agents, they need to communicate immediately they change the tax agent so that the agent no longer has access to the company’s official information.
5. When you write to us through our email address i.e. firstname.lastname@example.org ensure you use an official letterhead signed by the directors of the company to show authenticity. This is why we always advise those that just call us asking for initiation of any change to put it in writing on a company letterhead so that we guarantee authenticity.
6. Know to what extent the company can use a tax agent. Remember that the company needs to give the agent permission to do certain tasks on behalf of the company. Even if the company uses a tax agent the official contact details of the company should be maintained. This will ensure that the company receives any communication from ZRA and not the agent.
We hope that these few tips will help the company safeguard its confidential tax information. The growth of a company lies in the strategic information it keeps to itself including its tax portfolio.
Help us to keep your tax information confidential by doing the right thing. Ensure your demographic company details are up to date all the time.