CAMEROON: COVID-19 pandemic emergency tax measures in force

Following the announcement of the President's COVID-19 tax measures by the prime minister on 10 April 2020, the Ministry of Finance has issued Circular Note No. 20/169/CF/MINFI/DGI/DLRI/L on 13 May 2020. The circular clarifies the implementation of the tax measures as follows:

  • tax audits are suspended from 1 April to 30 June 2020, except in the case of flagrant fraudulent practices, desk audits, value-added tax (“VAT”) credit control and taxpayers requests;
  • the deadlines for tax statement filings are extended until 30 June 2020 on request of the taxpayer, subject to the payment of the corporate income tax balance by 15 March 2020;
  • the deadline for the payment of real estate tax has been extended from 30 June to 30 September 2020;
  • tax recovery is to be suspended for companies impacted by the pandemic, including those in the tourism, transport and related industry. The duration of the suspension will be assessed on a case-by-case basis;
  • an amount of CFA25-billion has been allocated to the refund of VAT credits;
  • all donations for the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic are deductible for income tax purposes;
  • an exemption from the tourist tax is granted for the 2020 fiscal year;
  • an exemption from vehicle taxes for taxis, motorcycle taxis and vehicles with a payload less than three tonnes is granted from 1 April to 30 June 2020; and
  • small food sellers are exempted from presumptive tax and council taxes on marketplaces.

In addition to the above measures in force, the following measures have also been announced on 10 April 2020 but have not yet been implemented:

  • the suspension of demurrages and parking fees in the ports of Douala and Kribi for a period of three months for the imports of products of necessity;
  • the suspension of audits and controls for social security contributions for a three-month period;
  • the suspension of late penalties payments for social security contributions, on request; and
  • an increase of family allowances granted to employees from CFA2 800 to F.CFA4 500.

COMOROS ISLANDS: COVID-19 pandemic emergency tax measures in force

In order to alleviate the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Comoros Islands have introduced the following tax-related measures under Decree n°20‐007/MFBSB/CAB of 30 March 2020:

  • a 30% reduction in customs duties until 31 July 2020 on:
    • all food products except those already benefiting from another reduction, alcoholic beverages and mineral waters;
    • essential medicines; and
    • hygiene products and materials listed;
  • the simplified import procedure (IM91) will exceptionally be observed at all customs clearance centres in order to allow importers to dispose of their goods within a period not exceeding one day;
  • extension of tax returns filing deadline from 31 March 2020 to 31 May 2020; and
  • allowing the payment of the lump-sum tax in instalments from 31 May 2020 to 30 September 2020.

On 2 April 2020, the General Tax Authority (AGID) issued a note circular n°20-050/MFBSB/DGD to clarify some of the above as follows:

  • with regard to the extension of the tax returns filing deadline, the instalment payments are also postponed to 31 August 2020, 31 October 2020 and 31 December 2020, instead 30 June 2020, 30 September 2020 and 31 December 2020; and
  • the date of payment of lump-sum tax will be 31 May 2020, 31 July 2020 and 30 September 2020. Business license duty is payable up to 31 May 2020.

ETHIOPIA: COVID-19 pandemic regulations on economic measures issued

The Council of Ministers issued regulations on economic measures to mitigate the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on 24 April 2020. In summary:

  • a taxpayer who has incurred loss in the 2019/2020 tax year ending 7 July 2020 may carry forward the amount of such loss to the next tax year;
  • taxpayers who are required to file VAT and turnover tax returns and make monthly payments may file tax returns and pay the tax for the months of March, April and May 2020 in June 2020. Any interest and penalty due will be remitted; and
  • taxpayers making donations in response to a call issued by the government to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic are allowed to deduct such donations against their taxable income in an amount not exceeding 20% of the taxable income of the taxpayer in the tax year.

GHANA: COVID-19 pandemic guidelines for implementation of tax incentives in support of taxpayers issued

The Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) has published guidelines on the application of announced COVID-19 tax incentives, stipulating the categories of eligible taxpayers and the procedures for application for the following incentives:

  • a waiver of income tax on personal emoluments (excluding other benefits such as bonuses, sitting allowances and honoraria) of health workers;
  • a waiver of income tax on the additional allowances constituting 50% of frontline health workers’ salaries from March to June 2020;
  • a waiver of income tax on withdrawals by persons from tier three provident funds and personal pension schemes before maturity as a result of permanent loss of employment or capital due to the COVID-19 pandemic;
  • relief from VAT, the national housing insurance levy and Ghana education fund levy relief on donations made towards the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic; and
  • allowing donations in support of the COVID-19 pandemic as deduction for income tax purposes.

GUINEA: COVID-19 pandemic emergency tax measures announced

On 2 April 2020, the prime minister launched a COVID-19 response plan to alleviate the economic effect of the COVID-19 pandemic in the Republic of Guinea, including the following tax-related measures:

  • exemption from all import duties on health equipment and similar products used in the fight against COVID-19 for the entire duration of the health crisis;
  • a three-month postponement of tax payments for all small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs);
  • a reduction for two weeks of VAT credits reimbursement deadlines;
  • a three-month postponement of all tax and social charges for companies in the tourism and hotel sectors; and
  • a three-month exemption of VAT on water and electricity bills of companies in the tourism and hotel sectors.

A circular dated 16 April 2020 has been issued to clarify the outline of these tax breaks, as follows:

  • a three-month postponement of tax and social charges is granted to micro enterprises (ie, companies that generate less than GNF500-million turnover per year) for the period from April to June 2020;
  • a three-month postponement of tax payment for small and medium-sized enterprises (ie, companies that generate a turnover between GNF500-million and 1.5-billion per year) is granted for April, May and June 2020, but the reporting obligation is maintained;
  • the three-month postponement of tax payments granted to the tourism sector relates to April, May and June 2020;
  • the three-month exemption from VAT on water and electricity bills granted to all businesses in the tourism sector is for the period from April to June 2020; and
  • the delay in refunding VAT credit reimbursement is to be reduced from two months to two weeks.

KENYA: Bill to overhaul the Income Tax Act reintroduced

The Kenyan Government has issued Gazette Notice Vol. CXXII - No.94 of 22 May 2020 announcing the reintroduction of the draft Income Tax Bill which was prepared in 2018 and released for public comment, but was subsequently shelved.

The Bill is referred to in the Gazette as the Income Tax Bill 2020 Supplement No.76 of 2020) and is intended to overhaul the Income Tax Act (Cap.470) to make it simpler, more supportive of economic growth and in line with international best practice aligned with changes in the present business environment. The Bill Supplement has yet to be published.

KENYA: Court of Appeal rules on withholding tax on commissions paid to overseas selling and marketing agents

The Court of Appeal on 24 April 2020 delivered judgment in Kenya Revenue Authority & Commissioner of Domestic Taxes v. Republic (ex parte) Kenya Nut Company Limited, Civil Appeal No. 58 of 2015 [2020] eKLR, confirming that withholding tax is due on commissions paid by a resident person to its overseas selling and marketing agents.

In the case at hand, the taxpayer, a limited liability company, is engaged in the business of growing, purchasing and processing macadamia and cashew nuts for both domestic and overseas markets. It sells the processed nuts in the overseas market through agents.

Following a tax audit by the Kenya Revenue Authority (“KRA”), an assessment was raised in respect of withholding tax on the commissions paid by the taxpayer to its overseas selling and marketing agents.

The taxpayer argued that:

  • it had no platform or means of collecting withholding tax from its foreign entity agents because the agents deducted their commissions and expenses at source and the taxpayer received remuneration based on sale proceeds of its goods net of commissions and expenses;
  • the funds retained by the foreign entities were a mixture of commissions and expenses, and no withholding tax was payable in respect of expenses;
  • section 35 of the Income Tax Act creates an obligation on the taxpayer to, upon payment of an amount to a resident or non-resident person, deduct and remit withholding tax on eligible income which accrued in or was derived from Kenya. However, the word "payment" is not to be interpreted to mean "paid" as defined in section 2 of the Income Tax Act, ie, "distributed, credited, dealt with or deemed to have been paid in the interest or on behalf of a person and "pay", "payment" and "payable" have corresponding meanings".

The High Court heard the case in first instance and concluded that, although the commission in question was paid by the taxpayer to the overseas agents, it was improper to expect the taxpayer to deduct the sum at the time the agents were receiving payments due to the fact that the commission was deducted at source, overseas. The High Court allowed the taxpayer’s application.

The KRA did not agree and appealed to the Court of Appeal, arguing, inter alia, that was the duty of the taxpayer to ensure that withholding tax was deducted and remitted to the KRA irrespective of whether the proceeds of sale were remitted to it or its agents.

The Court of Appeal held that:

  • with regard to withholding tax due from a non-resident person not having a permanent establishment in Kenya, but trading with a Kenyan entity, the taxpayer has a mandatory obligation to ensure that the tax is deducted from such payment and remitted;
  • to enter into a contract with foreign agents, which allowed foreigners to deduct and retain at source their commissions without putting in place mechanisms of taking into account withholding tax, was not only reckless on the part of the taxpayer but was also intended to deny the country revenue;
  • the taxpayer was under an obligation to identify and satisfy the KRA on what portions of such amounts were expenses and which ones were commissions.

The KRA’s appeal was allowed, with the exception of some adjustments to the penalty on unpaid tax.

KENYA: High Court confirms KRA’s right to take certain actions and require information for tax collection

The High Court delivered its judgment in the case of Okiya Omtatah Okoiti v. the Honorable Attorney General and the Kenya Revenue Authority, Petition Number 156 of 2017 on 20 February 2020 and granted an order declaring certain provisions of the Tax Procedures Act, 2015 (“TPA”), including the right of the KRA to enter taxpayers' premises, require the production of certain information and records and the use of information collected for the enforcement of tax collection.

The decision followed the filing of a constitutional case in the High Court arguing that the relevant sections of the TPA are unconstitutional on the basis that they infringe the right of privacy for individuals, the right against self-incrimination and the right to fair administrative action provided for by the Constitution, and should therefore be declared null and void.

The court dismissed the petition and held that:

  • there is sufficient and substantial reason for the limitation of the right to privacy, as it is KRA's mandate to ensure that all citizens abide by the laws relating to taxes and where they fail to do so, they are properly brought to justice with sufficient evidence to support the allegation. The TPA also requires that the KRA keep confidential all information unless specific disclosure is permitted under the express provisions of the TPA;
  • the privilege not to incriminate oneself cannot be used to claim immunity from a duty imposed on all other citizens, especially those who abide by the law. The court held that it is incumbent on the taxpayers to do their part in properly abiding by the tax law so as to not arouse the suspicions of the KRA who has the mandate to engage with them on the accuracy of their tax compliance; and
  • the impugned provisions do not violate the right to fair administrative action as the TPA incorporates provisions which are in line with the requirements of the Constitution and the Fair Administrative Actions Act, 2015.

KENYA: Court of Appeal stays implementation of decision prohibiting KRA from raiding or seizing taxpayers' property

The Court of Appeal on 24 April 2020 delivered its judgment in the case of Kenya Revenue Authority v. Robert Anyisi; Nairobi City County Government (Interested Party) [2020] eKLR [Civil Application No. 170 of 2018]) and granted an order to stay implementation of the High Court judgment, in which the latter declared sections 44(1) and (2), 60(1) and (3) and 59(4) of TPA unconstitutional.

Sections 44 and 60 of the TPA allow the KRA to search and seize goods and documents from taxpayers believed to have evaded tax, while section 59(4) waives the rights of individuals or organizations that are bound by a contractual duty of confidentiality.

These provisions were declared unconstitutional, and therefore null and void, by the High Court in its decision on 16 May 2018 on the grounds that they are in contradiction of article 31(b) of the Constitution, which guarantees the right to privacy, and specifically, the right not to have one's possessions seized.

The KRA, being aggrieved by the judgment in the High Court case, applied for a stay of its implementation pending an appeal.

The KRA argued that if the orders issued were to remain in force, its mandate in tax collection will be greatly hampered.

The Court of Appeal held that the KRA had raised arguable points and demonstrated that refusal to grant a stay would cause hardship that may reflect in the overall national economy and in the event that the appeal succeeds, the loss will be irreversible. Accordingly, an order to stay the entire judgment was issued pending the hearing and determination of the appeal by the Applicant.

KENYA: Marketing and promotional services to foreign affiliates considered to be exported services

On 31 March 2020, the Tax Appeals Tribunal (“TAT”) gave its decision in the case of Coca-Cola Central East and West Africa Limited (“CCEWA”) v. the Commissioner Domestic Taxes (TAT NO. 5) [2018], ruling that the marketing and promotional services CCEWA rendered to Coca-Cola Export Corporation and its non-Kenyan (foreign) affiliates qualify as services exported out of Kenya and are therefore zero-rated.

In the case at hand, CCEWA is an affiliate of the Coca-Cola Company which is incorporated and domiciled in the United States and is the owner of a number of brands, including Coca-Cola. The Coca-Cola Company and its affiliates manufacture and sell proprietary beverage concentrates. The Coca-Cola Company has transferred the rights to use the Coca-Cola trade marks outside the United States to certain affiliates, including the Coca-Cola Export Corporation, a company incorporated and domiciled in the United States (Coca-Cola Export). CCEWA and Coca-Cola Export entered into a service agreement for CCEWA to provide marketing and promotional services to Coca-Cola Export.

CCEWA applied to the KRA for refund claims of excess input VAT, following which the KRA conducted an audit of the CCEWA's VAT returns for the period April 2014 to June 2016. The KRA disallowed KES725-million from the Appellant's claim on the basis that it was undeclared output tax on locally consumed services and local sales and subsequently issued an assessment which CCEWA contested on the basis that the services were provided to foreign affiliates as exported services used and consumed outside Kenya and are therefore zero-rated as provided for in section 2 of the VAT Act 2013.

Section 2 of the VAT Act defines "services exported out of Kenya" as "a service provided for use or consumption outside Kenya". However, the KRA argued that the marketing and promotional services provided by CCEWA amounted to local sales and therefore attracted VAT at the standard rate of 16% as the consumer was not the payer (Coca-Cola Export), but the local Kenyan market was, as the advertisements are done and prepared for the local market, with a local context to make consumers buy more beverages.

CCEWA appealed the matter to the TAT, who in coming to its conclusion relied on the OECD International VAT/GST Guidelines which are applicable in Kenya and a High Court decision, Income Tax Appeal No. 17 of 2013, Commissioner of Domestic Taxes v. Total Touch Cargo Holland, which held that what is material is where the use and consumption of the services take place, not the place of performance of the services.

The TAT:

  • summarised the operating model, in terms of which the services flow from Kenya to Coca Cola Export in the United States, which in turn provides the services to the manufacturers of the concentrates in Eswatini, which are then imported into Kenya as a product, not as a service;
  • agreed that the Kenyan consumers of the beverage are the target audience of the advertising services; however, the benefit is accrued by Coca-Cola Export, which enhances the business and sales of "selling manufacture of concentrate";
  • stated that, under the destination principle provided for by the OECD Guidelines, the identity of the customer state is determined by the business agreement, and the Kenyan consumer in this case is a third party insofar as the service agreement is concerned;
  • determined that the consumer of marketing services is Coca-Cola Export as set out in the service agreement; and
  • accordingly, and in applying the destination principle, the United States has the taxing rights.

KENYA: TAT rules that dependent school fees are not subject to PAYE

The Tax Appeals Tribunal (“TAT”), in its judgment delivered on 27 March 2020 in the case of Tax Appeal No.119 of 2017, held that the non-cash benefit in the form of school fees for dependants provided by a company to its employees is not subject to pay-as-you-earn (“PAYE”), but the relevant education costs should be disallowed as a deduction corporate income tax purposes in the hands of the employer.

The taxpayer renders educational services in the form of preparatory and secondary schooling and provided its employees with a non-cash benefit of in the form of discounted school fees for their dependants.

Following a tax audit by the KRA, a PAYE assessment was issued in respect of such benefit for the 2010 to 2015 tax years. However, the taxpayer argued that the benefit is not subject to PAYE, but that the expenditure it incurred in providing the non-cash benefit to its employees should be disallowed as deduction for corporate income tax purposes.

The TAT held that, although it is admitted that the Income Tax Act may contain contradictory provisions in this regard, where a statute contains both a general provision as well as a specific provision, the latter must prevail.

The KRA was relying on section 5(4)(d) and section 5(5)(b) which were of a general nature, whereas the taxpayer based its position on 16(2)(a)(iv), which specifically provides for the non-deductibility of expenses incurred by a person in the maintenance of himself, his family or establishment or for any other personal or domestic purpose including educational fees of employee’s dependants or relatives.

The TAT, therefore, allowed the taxpayer’s appeal and determined that the non-cash benefit to the employees was not subject to PAYE, but that the cost incurred by the taxpayer in providing the non-cash benefit to its employees should be disallowed when computing its taxable income.

LESOTHO: Lesotho Revenue Authority issues legal notice on deferment and remission of revenue to alleviate impact of COVID-19

The Lesotho Revenue Authority (“LRA”) published the Legal Notice: Lesotho Revenue Authority (Deferment and Remission of Revenue) Notice, 2020 in the Official Gazette on 15 May 2020. The notice applies with immediate effect and addresses the procedure for deferment and remission of revenue to provide relief for qualifying taxpayers in the following categories:

Company income tax for large taxpayers

  • 60% of the first quarter instalment tax payable will be paid by the end of June 2020;
  • 80% of the second quarter instalment tax payable will be paid by the end of September 2020; and
  • the deferred amounts of 40% and 20% from the first and second quarters respectively will be paid from the end of October 2020 in six equal monthly instalments ending in March 2021.

Company income tax for small and medium taxpayers

  • 100% of the first quarter instalment tax payable will be deferred; and
  • 80% of the second quarter instalment tax will be paid by the end of September 2020; and
  • the deferred amounts of 100% and 20% from the first and second quarters respectively will be paid from the end of October 2020 in six equal monthly instalments ending in March 2021.


The payment of VAT and PAYE which is due in the months of April, May and June by an entity that has stopped its business operations during the national lockdown, will be deferred. The deferred amounts will be payable from the end of July 2020 in nine equal monthly instalments ending in March 2021.

Individual income tax for taxpayers in transport business

Income tax payable by an individual who is engaged in public transport business during the period of the national lockdown is remitted.

MADAGASCAR: COVID-19 Pandemic tax and economic measures adopted

The following tax measures have been introduced to alleviate the economic effect of the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • allowing social donations made to authorities in charge of the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic as a deduction for income tax purposes;
  • suspending the payment of income tax instalments for the tourism sectors (hotels, restaurants, operators, tourism, travel agencies, air transport) and enterprises subject to the free zone regime;
  • postponing the income tax return filing and payment deadline for the tourism sectors and enterprises subject to the free zone regime from 15 May to 30 June 2020;
  • postponement of synthetic tax return filing and payment deadline up to 15 May;
  • suspending of tax audits, except for companies taking advantage of the situation to increase prices (speculators);
  • exempting from penalties for taxpayers repatriating at least 80% of their currency;
  • extension of the tax payment deadline by two months; and
  • suspending payment of social charges and more flexible payment terms granted for the first two quarters.

The Ministry of Finance through the Tax General Directorate, has taken some measures in order to clarify the application of the tax measures referred to above as follows:

  • or social donations made to authorities in charge of the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic to be tax deductible, they must be:
    • made in the current fiscal year;
    • recorded in the accounting books; and
    • subject to a purchase order and justified by an acknowledgment of receipt;
  • the income tax return filing deadline has been postponed from 15 May to 30 June 2020 for all taxpayers;
  • possibility to pay income tax in two instalments, the first half on 15 May 2020 and the other half on 15 June 2020;
  • tax return filing and payment by electronic means (e-hetraphone, e-hetraPayment and Hetraphone) are encouraged in order to comply with COVID-19 pandemics medical protocol; and
  • the filing deadline for goods purchased or sold and payment to third parties has been postponed until 30 June 2020.

MALI: COVID-19 pandemic tax and economic measures announced

The president, in his speech of 10 April 2020, announced the following tax measures to alleviate the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • a reduction, for three months, of the customs duty taxable base for vital products, in particular rice and milk;
  • an exemption from VAT exemption electricity and water for April, May and June 2020; and
  • the granting of tax rebates, on a case-by-case basis, to companies most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic medical protocol, such as the tourism industries (hotel, travel and catering), and transport.

In order to implement the announced measures, the Ministry of Finance issued Letter No.01671/MEF-SG on 28 April 2020, clarifying that:

  • the VAT exemption concerns invoices issued by the Malian drinking water management company (SOMAGEP-SA) and energy company (EDM-SA) relating to consumption in April, May and June;
  • tax rebates will be granted to companies as follows:
    • postponement of income tax return filing until 31 May 2020;
    • an exemption from tax on payroll (CFE) and housing tax (TL);
    • reduction of synthetic tax of 2.82%; and
    • reduction of 25% and 50% of penalties due until 30 April 2020. The reduction rate will be increased based on the economic situation and fiscal behaviour of the taxpayers concerned.

MAURITANIA: COVID-19 Pandemic Emergency tax and customs duties measures announced

To alleviate the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Mauritanian President has announced the following measures:

  • exemption from taxes and customs duties on wheat, oils, powdered milk, vegetables and fruits for the rest of the year. This exemption aims at reducing the price of basic products;
  • tax relief from all municipal taxes granted for a period of two months to liberal professions and small businesses; and
  • exemption from all taxes and fees resulting for the rest of the year for heads of families working in the traditional fishing sector.

MAURITIUS: 2020/21 Budget presented to the National Assembly

The Budget for 2020-21 was presented to the National Assembly by the Minister of Finance on 4 June 2020. Significant proposed amendments, whose effective date will be communicated in the Finance Act, include:

corporate taxation

  • the introduction of a levy on corporates (excluding companies operating in the tourism sector or holding global business licenses) deriving gross income exceeding MUR500-million in an accounting year will be required to pay the levy at a rate of:
    • 3% on its gross income if it is an insurance company, financial institution, a service provider or a property holding company; or
    • 1% for any other company.
  • the levying of a solidarity levy of 5% of its accounting profit and 1.5% of its turnover on telephone service providers;
  • requiring life insurance companies to pay an alternative minimum tax of 10% of the profit attributable to their shareholders adjusted for capital gains and losses if it is higher than the tax payable under the current tax system;
  • granting an eight-year tax holiday to companies involved in inland aquaculture, or the manufacturing of nutraceutical products with effect from 4 June 2020. The tax holiday will also be available for a company manufacturing pharmaceutical products, medical devices or high-tech products, or any top 500 educational institutions worldwide which set up a branch campus in Mauritius from an yet to be announced effective date;
  • an accelerated 100% annual allowance will be allowed for electronics high-precision machinery or equipment; automated equipment; green technology equipment; or equipment and machinery used for eliminating, reducing or transforming industrial waste;
  • manufacturing companies incurring capital expenditure on plant and machinery will be entitled to claim an investment tax credit of 5% of the cost in the year of acquisition and in the two following years against its tax payable;
  • the partial exemption of 80% on interest income will not apply to non-bank deposit taking institutions, money changers, foreign exchange dealers, insurance companies, leasing companies and companies providing factoring, hire purchase facilities or credit sale facilities.

personal taxation

  • the existing solidarity levy will be paid by individuals having an aggregate of chargeable income and dividends exempt from income tax exceeding MUR3-million compared to the previous threshold of MUR3.5-million. The rate applicable on the amount exceeding the threshold of MUR3-million will be increased from 5% to 25% for income derived as from 1 July 2020. The levy will be collected at source under the PAYE system;
  • personal allowances will increase in the range of MUR15 000 to MUR80 000 depending on the number of dependants of the taxpayer. A new allowance ranging from MUR80 000 to MUR110 000 will be introduced for taxpayers taking care of a bedridden next of kin.

social security

  • the National Pension Fund will cease collecting contributions but will continue to pay pension benefits to those who have contributed so far to the fund. It will be replaced, as from 1 September 2020, by a contribution sociale géneralisée (CSG), which will be a contributory, participative and collective system. The first monthly benefits will be paid from July 2023 to citizens who have attained the normal retirement age of 65.
  • the monthly contribution rates for employees and employers will be as follows:
    • for employees earning up to MUR50 000: the contribution will be 1.5% by the employees and 3% by the employer; and
    • for employees earning more than MUR50 000 monthly: the contribution will be 3% by the employees and 6% by the employer.


  • VAT will be introduced on digital and electronic services provided through the Internet by non-residents to residents of Mauritius for utilisation in Mauritius;
  • the time of supply for an operator in the construction industry will be when the VAT is paid on construction contracts awarded by the government instead of the usual date of invoicing.
  • the following items will be added to the list of zero-rated supplies:
    • unprocessed agricultural and horticultural produce;
    • live animals of a kind generally used as or yielding or producing food for human consumption;
    • medical, hospital and dental services; and
    • transport of passengers by public service vehicles excluding contract buses for the transport of tourists and contract cars;
  • the following supplies will be exempt from VAT:
    • construction materials and specialized equipment used by medical research and development centres;
    • information technology and related materials and equipment for online education;
    • equipment used for inland aquaculture; and
    • the first MUR1 000 (previously MUR3 000) of the cost of a taxable article imported by post or courier services;

sugar tax

  • the sugar tax on sugar-sweetened beverages was increased from MUR0.03 to MUR0.06 per gram of sugar as from 5 June 2020. This tax will also apply as from 1 November 2020 to locally manufactured and imported non-staple sweetened products.

MAURITIUS: Treaty with Senegal terminated by Senegal

The double tax agreement between Mauritius and Senegal was terminated by Senegal on 18 June 2019. In accordance with article 29 of the treaty, the treaty will continue to apply in Senegal up to 31 December 2019 and in Mauritius up to 30 June 2020.

MAURITIUS: Various COVID-19 pandemic emergency tax measures introduced

The government has provided an extension for tax returns not filed and taxes not paid on the due date during the COVID-19 period, from 23 March 2020 to 1 June 2020 in respect of the following taxes:

  • advance Payment System (APS) Statement by companies for quarter ending on 31 December 2019, 31 January 2020 or 29 February 2020;
  • advertising Structure Fee – second instalment due by 15 April 2020;
  • bills of entry not submitted by due date;
  • corporate tax return for companies with accounting year ending in September, October or November 2019;
  • current Payment System (CPS) Statement by individuals for quarter ending 31 December 2019;
  • deferred Payment Scheme of customs duty, excise duty and taxes for goods cleared during February and March 2020;
  • gaming tax return by casinos, gaming houses, coin-operated, amusement or limited pay-out machines for February and March 2020;
  • gaming tax return by betting operators for week ending 13 March and 20 March 2020;
  • national lottery return for quarter ending 31 March 2020;
  • National Pension Fund (NPF) and National Savings Fund (NSF) return for February, March and April 2020;
  • passenger fee and passenger solidarity Levy for February, March and April 2020;
  • PAYE return for February, March and April 2020;
  • tax deduction at source return for February, March and April 2020;
  • VAT return with taxable period ending in February, March and April 2020;

The tax returns can be filed and taxes paid until 25 June 2020 without paying any penalty and interest.

The Environment Protection Fee for February, March and April 2020 not paid during the COVID-19 period has to be paid within 30 days after 1 June 2020 to avoid any penalty. The fee for May 2020 which should be paid by 20 June 2020 can be paid within a period of 30 days after 20 June 2020. The extension was introduced by the Emergency COVID-19 (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act enacted on 16 May 2020.

The Mauritius Revenue Authority has also announced on 14 May 2020 that the filing obligations for this year under the Common Reporting Standard (CRS) for the year 2019 is to be extended from 31 July 2020 to 30 September 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The government has introduced a new COVID-19 levy (the levy) to be paid by profitable employers who have benefitted from the Wage Assistance Scheme (WAS) during the COVID-19 period, from 23 March 2020 to 1 June 2020. The levy will be paid by the employers when submitting their next two income tax returns as a way of refunding the assistance they have received from the government.

MOZAMBIQUE: COVID-19 pandemic measures exempt sugar, oil and soap from VAT

The government, on 13 May 2020, has announced the decision the extension of the VAT exemption on sugar, oil and soap up to 31 December 2020 to include the raw materials, intermediary products, spares and equipment used by the sugar, oil and soap industries.

The decision will take effect once published in the Official Gazette.

NAMIBIA: 2020/2021 National Budget Presented to Parliament

The Minister of Finance presented the National Budget for 2020/2021 to Parliament on 27 May 2020. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting ongoing social and economic impacts, no new taxes have been introduced, but the Budget deals with the following measures that were proposed in the 2018/2019 Budget:

  • withdrawing the amendment proposed by the 2018/2019 Budget to disallow the deduction of royalties paid by mining companies; and
  • the repeal of export processing zones and manufacturing incentives on imported goods has been passed by parliament, and will become effective on the date to be announced in a government gazette. It is proposed that export-processing zones will be replaced by special economic zones, but no further details are available at this stage.

NAMIBIA: COVID-19 pandemic emergency tax measures clarified

The Ministry of Finance and the Social Security Commission have clarified some of the measures included in their economic stimulus packages announced on 1 April 2020 and 7 April 2020 respectively, including:

  • the tax-back loan scheme to non-mining companies will be based on 1/12 of the income tax payments made in the previous financial year. Companies in a tax loss position will not qualify for these loans as they would not have paid any tax. Proof of income tax payment must be submitted to the bank; and
  • the tax-back loan scheme for individuals will be based on 1/12 of the pay-as-you-earn payments made for the 2020 tax year ending on 28 February. Proof of tax payment needs to be submitted to the bank.

The Namibia Training Authority has also on 27 April 2020 announced relief measures specific to the employer-training grant (“ETG”) of the vocational education and training levy. The measures are aimed at broadening participation in the scheme as indicated below:

  • the submission deadline for ETG claims is extended from 1 May 2020 to 5 June 2020;
  • ETG claim evidence requirements have been relaxed to now only include invoices and proof of payment for training costs; and
  • the relief measures only apply to claim submissions for the 2019/2020 financial year.

NIGERIA: FIRS launches new tax clearance certificate application portal

The Federal Inland Revenue Service (“FIRS”) has launched a new tax clearance certificate application portal following the decommissioning of the current tax clearance certificate application website (

Taxpayers are required to complete the FIRS Update Form to update their information with the FIRS and submit it to their respective tax offices, or via the designated e-mail addresses of their tax offices for necessary action.

NIGERIA: FIRS issues public notice on regularisation of the tax status of dormant companies

The FIRS recently issued a Public Notice requesting all dormant companies to regularise all their outstanding returns by 30 June 2020. A company is deemed to be dormant if it has informed the FIRS of its temporary cessation of business activities due to understandable exigencies for a minimum of one financial year.

Any dormant company that fails to regularise its outstanding tax returns by 30 June 2020 will face enforcement actions, including delisting the defaulting company from the list of incorporated companies and placing a lien on its bank account(s).

Dormant companies are permitted to submit “Statement of Affairs” in lieu of audited financial statements for the purpose of regularising their tax status.

NIGERIA: FIRS resumes field audits, investigations and monitoring exercises following COVID-19 lockdown

The FIRS, through a public notice issued on 2 June 2020, has announced a phased approach to resuming field audits, investigations and monitoring exercises from 30 June 2020 as follows:

  • Phase I: immediate continuation of reconciliation of findings/liabilities arising as a result of desk reviews, monitoring visits, tax audits and tax investigations; and
  • Phase II: field visits in respect of monitoring, tax audits and tax investigations.

NIGERIA: Companies Income Tax (Significant Economic Presence) Order issued

The federal government of Nigeria has published the Companies Income Tax (Significant Economic Presence) Order, 2020 providing guidance on the definition of significant economic presence relating to taxable income derived by any foreign company in Nigeria, based on section 13(2)(c) and (e) of the Companies Income Tax Act, Cap. C21 LFN 2004.

The Order was published in the Official Gazette No. 21, Vol 107 of 10 February 2020 with an effective date of. However, it was made public on 29 May 2020.

A company will be deemed to have a significant economic presence in Nigeria in any accounting year where it:

  • derives a gross turnover or income of more than NGN25-million from any combination of the following:
    • streamlining or downloading services of digital contents, including but not limited to movies, videos, music, applications, games and e-books provided to any person in Nigeria;
    • transmission of data collected about Nigerian users which has been generated from such users' activities on a digital interface, including website or mobile applications;
    • provision of goods or services other than services and goods provided to connected persons, directly or indirectly through a digital platform to Nigeria; or
    • provision of intermediation services through a digital platform, website or other online applications that link suppliers and customers in Nigeria;
  • uses a domain name (.ng) or registers a website address in Nigeria; and
  • has purposeful and sustained interaction with persons in Nigeria by customising its digital page or platform to target persons in Nigeria, including reflecting the prices of its products or services in Nigerian currency or providing options for or payment in Nigerian currency.

The Order also clarifies that:

  • "any other electronic or wireless apparatus" referred to in section 13(2)(c) of CITA includes digital or related activities carried on through satellite;
  • where Nigeria is a party to a multilateral agreement or consensus arrangement to address the tax challenges arising from the digitalization of the economy, a foreign company covered under such agreements/arrangement will be treated in accordance with the agreement/arrangement;
  • in determining whether the threshold for a significant economic presence has been met, activities carried on by "connected persons" during the relevant accounting year should be aggregated;
  • a foreign company providing technical, professional, management or consultancy services will have significant economic presence in Nigeria in any accounting year where it earns any income or receives any payment from a person resident in Nigeria or a fixed base or agent of a company other than a Nigerian company in Nigeria; and
  • businesses that may be covered by a significant economic presence in Nigeria are expected to register with the FIRS and comply with the relevant provisions of CITA with effect 3 February 2020.

NIGERIA: Large Tax Office established in Apapa

The FIRS has announced the establishment of a Large Tax Office (Non-Oil) in Apapa, Lagos at No. 22 Warehouse Road, Apapa. The Office is intended to promote voluntary compliance and ease of paying taxes, and, with effect from 15 May 2020 cater for the following categories of taxpayers whose revenues exceed ₦2-billion:

  • all domestic aviation companies in Lagos;
  • all construction companies in Lagos;
  • all domestic shipping companies in Lagos;
  • all logistics, haulage and transportation companies in Lagos; and
  • concessionaires at the Lagos ports

NIGERIA: Deadline for filing of Automatic Exchange of Information returns extended due to COVID-19

The FIRS, through its Public Notice of 19 May 2020, has extended the deadline for the filing of reports by financial institutions under the Automatic Exchange of Information- Common Reporting Standard Regulations (AEOI-CRS) from 31 May to 30 September 2020.

NIGERIA: Information Circular on 2019 Finance Act issued

The FIRS on 29 April 2020 issued a number of Information Circulars, including:

  • Information Circular 2020/04 – Clarification on Sundry Provisions of the Finance Act 2019 as it relates to Companies Income Tax Act, which covers:
    • determination of dividends paid out of retained earnings;
    • exemption of small companies from companies income tax;
    • withholding tax obligations and related matters;
    • small companies and Tertiary Education Tax;
    • treatment of capital allowances for small companies;
    • profit on exported goods, deductions allowed and interest deductibility;
    • expenses incurred in earning exempt income;
    • tax or penalty borne on behalf of another person;
    • tax rate, filing and payment of tax, minimum tax and related matters;
    • tax incentive for gas utilisation (downstream operations); and
    • relief for foreign loan;
  • Information Circular 2020/06 (the Circular) – Clarification on Commencement and Cessation Rules and Business Reorganisations, providing clarification on the administration of the various amendments by the Finance Act 2019 to relevant tax laws with respect to the commencement, cessation and business reorganization;
  • Information Circular 2020/08 (the Circular) – Clarification on the Taxation of Insurance Companies, providing clarification on section 16 of the Companies Income Tax Act relating to the taxation of life and non-life insurance businesses;
  • Information Circular 2020/07 (the Circular) – Circular on Tax Implications of Operations of Real Estate Investment Companies (REIC), providing clarification on the tax treatment of a REIC, which is approved or regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) under the relevant provisions on Real Estate Investment Schemes (REISs);
  • Information Circular 2020/03 (the Circular) – Clarification on Tax Implications of the Operation of Regulated Securities Lending in Nigeria, providing clarity on the application of various relevant sections in the Companies Income Tax Act, Schedule to the Stamp Duties Act and the Personal Income Tax Act;
  • Information Circular 2020/02 – Clarification on the Implementation of the Value Added Tax (VAT) provisions in the Finance Act 2019, providing clarification on aspects of the amendments made to the VAT Act Cap; and
  • Information Circular 2020/05 clarifying the Stamp Duties Act, Cap S8. LFN, 2004, providing clarification on aspects of the amendments made to the Stamp Duties Act.

UGANDA: supplementary Tax Amendment Bills issued to address COVID-19

On 4 June 2020, the government issued the following supplementary bills, which will take effect on 1 July 2020:

  • Income Tax Amendment Bill, proposing to amend section 34 of the Income Tax Act by adding an allowable deduction for a gift made to the government during a year of income for purposes of facilitating the prevention, treatment and containment of the COVID-19 pandemic;
  • VAT Amendment Bill, proposing to exempt from VAT specified medical goods used in the prevention of COVID-19, including disposable medical face masks and infra-red thermometers;
  • Tax Procedure Code Amendment Bill, proposing to defer payment of tax until 30 September 2020 for taxpayers involved in the business of manufacturing, tourism and floricultural sectors whose turnover is less than UGX500-million and is registered for taxes and liable to pay tax on or after 1 April 2020 and before 30 June 2020. No interest or penalty will be imposed on any outstanding amounts in this period and any interest on tax arrears unpaid as at 30 June 2020 by a taxpayer that voluntarily complies with its tax obligations is to be waived.

UGANDA: Uganda Revenue Authority issues COVID-10 guidelines

The Uganda Revenue Authority (“URA”) has issued a public notice on 8 May 2020 containing guidelines to accelerate the refunding process under domestic taxes in order to support taxpayers during the COVID-19 pandemic. In summary:

  • all supporting documentation must be submitted in full within two days after submission of the tax return with a refund claim. The URA will reject a refund claim with partial documentation;
  • taxpayers with pending refund claims that are unsure about the status of the documentation they submitted are advised to submit amended returns online or submit full documentation by 20 May 2020.
  • the guidelines above also applies to offsetting of claims; and
  • taxpayers are encouraged to submit refund claims that are 100% legitimate. Any fraudulent refund claims will attract severe sanctions including prosecution.

In another public notice issued on 8 May 2020, the URA has also further extended the deadline for filing monthly and corporate income tax returns and granting taxpayers who had requested to make instalment payments an option to reschedule their payments as follows:

  • taxpayers whose monthly returns in respect of VAT, PAYE, excise duty, withholding taxes and taxes due under the Gaming and Lotteries Act were due on 15 April 2020 and/or 15 May 2020 that are unable to file returns have been granted an extension until 31 May 2020;
  • taxpayers whose accounting date is 31 October 2019 and were unable to file corporate tax returns by 30 April 2020 have been granted an extension until 31 May 2020;
  • taxpayers that structured their instalment payments to resume in May 2020 but are unable to meet their obligations are granted an option to further reschedule the payments to resume in June 2020; and
  • penalties and interest for late filing will be remitted if returns are filed by the new dates.

UGANDA: Tax Appeals Tribunal rules on withholding tax due on accrued interest

On 26 May 2020, the Uganda Tax Appeals Tribunal (“TAT”) in the case of ATC Uganda Limited (“ATC”) vs Uganda Revenue Authority (“URA”) ruled on when an obligation for withholding tax arises and when an amount is deemed to be “paid”.

In the case at hand, ATC received a 7-year loan to the amount of USD124-million at an interest rate of 6.56% per year from its foreign parent company, Uganda Tower Interco BV (“UTI”).

The shareholder loan agreement provided that interest shall accrue and that such accrued interest will be added to the principal loan amount outstanding. For 54 months, accrued interest was added to the principal loan amount outstanding, but no withholding tax was accounted for or paid over in respect of the accrued interest.

Subsequently the URA issued an assessment in respect of the withholding tax on the accrued interest added to the principal loan for the period 2012 to 2017. ATC objected against the assessment and, when the URA rejected the objection, appealed to the TAT.

ATC relied on the provisions of section 47 (Debt obligations with discount or premium). Under section 47(1) interest in the form of any discount, premium or deferred interest shall be taken into account as it accrues. However, section 47(2) specifically provides that when such interest is subject to withholding tax, the interest shall be taken to be derived or incurred when paid. Accordingly, withholding tax is only due when the interest is paid and the conversion of such interest into a loan does not amount to payment.

The TAT agreed that the interest was in fact “deferred” as envisaged by section 47 and that the specific provisions of section 47(2) applied. However, it was of the opinion that “payment” is no longer restricted to physical exchange of cash or a transfer of monies. A payment can be made by conversion of a debt into equity, a relief of a debt, or a swap of debt with an obligation, a digital or an electronic payment or any other means of conferring value or benefit on a person.

By converting the interest into a loan obligation, ACT was discharging its obligation to pay the interest in issue and, in effect, the interest was paid at the end of each interest period when it was converted into the loan. It was, accordingly, ruled that ACT was liable for withholding tax on the interest converted into the loan and ACT was ordered to pay the assessed withholding tax, including the penalty.

ZAMBIA: Statutory Instruments issued to legislate VAT and Customs and Excise duty reliefs

The Minister of Finance has on 27 April 2020 published in the official gazette under Gazette Notice No. 356 of 2020. The following statutory instruments legislating the emergency tax measures announced on 20 April 2020 to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economy:

  • Statutory Instrument Number 36 of 2020 – The Value Added Tax (General) (Amendment) Regulations, 2020, aimed at assisting companies and businesses in managing their cash flows during this period by allowing input VAT claims on spare parts, lubricants and stationery;
  • Statutory Instrument Number 37 of 2020 – The Value Added Tax (Zero Rating) (Amendment) Order, 2020, extending the list of medical supplies that are not subject to VAT for an initial period of six months from 1 April 2020 to expedite the provision of medical-related devices needed to support the fight against COVID-19;
  • Statutory Instrument Number 38 of 2020 - The Customs and Excise (raw Hides Skins) (Export Duty) (Suspension) Order, 2020, suspending export duty payable on crocodile skins with the period 1 April 2020 to 31 December 2020;
  • Statutory Instrument Number 39 of 2020 – The Customs and Excise (Copper Ores and Concentrates) (Import Duty) (Suspension) Regulations, 2020, suspending import duty payable on copper ores and concentrates for the period 1 April 2020 to 31 December 2020;
  • Statutory Instrument Number 40 of 2020 – The Customs and Excise (Precious Metals) (Export Duty) (Suspension) Order, 2020, suspending export duty payable on specified precious metals from 30 March 2020 to 31 December 2020;
  • Statutory Instrument Number 41 of 2020 – The Customs and Excise (Ethyl Alcohol {Ethanol}) (Refunds, Rebates and Remissions) Regulations, 2020, suspending the excise duty on ethanol if solely used in the production of alcohol-based sanitizers and medical-related commodities, with effect from 1 March 2020; and
  • Statutory Instrument Number 42 of 2020 - The Customs and Excise (Customs Duty) (Suspension) (Medical Supplies) Regulations, 2020, suspending customs duty payable on specified medical supplies from 1 April 2020 for an initial period of six months to support the fight against COVID-19.

ZIMBABWE: COVID-19 economic recovery and stimulus package announced

The Minister of Finance and Economic Development has announced the COVID-19 Economic Recovery and Stimulus Package on 4 May 2020, including the following tax measures:

  • import duties on raw materials are to be relaxed until the end of 2020;
  • a credit of 50% of expenditure on donations towards COVID-19 mitigation efforts will be granted to corporate entities; and
  • frontline health personnel are to be paid a tax-free risk allowance.

The legal framework and operational modalities are yet to be put into place in order for the measures to take effect.

Sources include IBFD’s Tax Research Platform;;