The biblical need for everyone to ‘give to Caesar what belongs to him’ rang particularly true and significant among religious organisations in the country this week.
In workshops it is orgnising across the country, National tax collector Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) has been telling the religious organisations that they will now be expected to pay millions of kwacha in tax to the government.
MRA said the taxation holiday the religious organisations enjoyed for decades –partly because of being ignorant of the tax obligations– is now over.
The organisation explained that the organisations now need to pay up because many of them are running and developing profit-making businesses, like private schools and lodges, which are taxable.
In facilitating the meeting in Lilongwe earlier today, MRA public relations specialist Hilda Mkandawire said it was imperative for the religious leaders to be well informed on how they can pay taxes once they engage in other business activities.
“This is not the first time we are holding such meetings because we run them on a yearly basis. As MRA, we do not collect taxes on church offerings but we get taxes only when the church is embarking on other businesses, including hiring out halls and opening schools and hospitals which are not under the Christian Health Association (CHAM),” said Mkandaweire.
One of the more than 100 religious leaders who attended the meeting, Pastor Mathews of Enlightened Christian Gathering in Lilongwe, commended MRA for organising the meeting, saying it helped him understand other issues of taxation involving religious bodies.
MRA is running the workshops with the aim of clarifying and explaining taxation issues that affect the ecclesiastical organisations.
Today’s meeting came after a similar one in Zomba on Monday this week. The other meetings will be held in Mzuzu, this Friday, and Blantyre, on Tuesday next week.