Councillors not exempt from paying tax.
Councillors are required to pay tax and are taxed as individuals through the Pay As You Earn (PAYE) system, a Botswana Unified Revenue Service (BURS) official has explained.
Addressing a session of the Gaborone City Council recently, BURS acting commissioner of operations Mr William Nkitseng said only sitting, ward and meal allowances as well as terminal benefits were exempt from tax.
Mr Nkitseng said tax was paid according one's income as well as income from other sources adding that a minimum annual income of P36 000 must be registered and tax paid.
Councillors heard that BURS had intelligence and investigation officers responsible for finding out if individuals had other sources of income apart from the ones registered.
Salary, business income, be it from rental, trade or professional service, including income from farming, were liable for tax and should be registered, he said.
Failure to do so, he warned, would result in action being taken and if five years had elapsed without the filing of tax returns, culprits would be charged with tax fraud.
The charges attracted penalties or interest, said Mr Nkitseng explaining that in the case of income tax, P100 per day was added while failure to register would result in an amount not exceeding P100 000 being paid.
He said councillors, like any other individual, had the right to secrecy and if any person owed tax and negotiated with BURS, the information had to be treated as confidential.
Furthermore, he said, a person's tax status should not be public information unless the case was at the High Court.
Even in such cases, a person could plead for their names not to be divulged and would appear as party X in the court forms, he said.
He encouraged the councillors to update their taxes before the beginning of the tax year, July 1 - June 30. On other issues, most councillors expressed skepticism about public education on BURS and its mandate.
They emphasised that BURS should educate people about tax before collecting it and clarify the standards they sought in the filing of tax returns.
They expressed displeasure at recent incidents where the media was informed about the confiscation of people's belongings which they argued, violated people's right to secrecy.
However, most councillors agreed that as leaders they should pay their taxes and lead by example.