FAQs

Tax

Instalment taxes – My first instalment tax for 2020 is due on 20th April. What should I do?

Kenya - Anjarwalla & Khanna

Instalment tax can be computed and paid on a ‘’prior year basis’’ or on a ‘’current year basis’’. In this regard, therefore, if the projected profitability in the current financial year is expected to be significantly lower than that of the prior year, for example due to adverse economic conditions, the current year basis should be used for purposes of computing the instalment tax payable, to avoid an overpayment of tax and therefore manage cash flows. However, it should be noted that where the current year basis is used and it results in a tax underpayment, penalties are imposed for the tax underpayment and this method should therefore only be used where it is clear that profitability in the current year will be significantly lower than that of prior year.

Where it is impossible to pay the instalment tax or any other tax by the statutory deadline, you may make a written application (justifying the delay) to the Commissioner of Domestic Taxes for an extension of time to pay the tax due. If the Commissioner is satisfied that there is a reasonable cause, the Commissioner has 30 days to either grant the taxpayer an extension of time for payment of the tax or require the taxpayer to pay the tax in instalments determined by the Commissioner. However, late payment interest would still be payable upon the Commissioner granting an extension of time in such circumstances.

Nigeria - G.Elias & Co.

Most tax payments in Nigeria are made once a year. Those that are not paid annually are pay-as-you-earn, Withholding Tax, Value Added Tax and the Petroleum Profit Tax (PPT).

PPT is paid on a monthly instalment basis for a period of 12 months. The 13th monthly payment is due by 31 March. There is no penalty for underpayment except where the 13th month instalment is not paid within the statutorily-prescribed time.

Uganda - MMAKS Advocates

Where it is impossible to pay the instalment tax or any other tax by the statutory deadline, you may make a written application (justifying the delay) to the Commissioner General for an extension of time to pay the tax due. An application for an extension of time to pay tax shall be made by the due date for payment of the tax.

If the Commissioner is satisfied that there is a reasonable cause, the Commissioner may either grant the taxpayer an extension of time for payment of the tax or require the taxpayer to pay the tax in instalments determined by the Commissioner. However, if the tax is permitted to be paid by instalments and there is a default in payment of any instalment, the whole balance of the outstanding tax becomes payable immediately. The late payment interest would still be payable upon the Commissioner granting an extension of time from the original due date for the tax payable.

The above notwithstanding, the Uganda Revenue Authority has issued the “URA COVID-19 Business Continuity Measures” (the “URA COVID Guidelines”) to the effect that taxpayers who have executed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and who have payments due in the months of March and April 2020, will have the option to defer and reschedule these payments. The terms of the MoU will accordingly be restructured for the payments to resume in May 2020.

Zambia - Musa Dudhia & Co.

You are were required to submit a provisional income tax return electronically on the Zambia Revenue Authority’s (the “ZRA”) TaxOnline Web Portal on or before 31 March, which should have contained the following:

  1. an estimate of your income liable to tax (based on information reasonably believed to be true);
  2. a computation of tax based on rates applicable for the 2020 charge year and in the case of an individual, any tax credit to which the individual is entitled should be deducted and your computation should exclude pay as you earn on emoluments and any tax already deducted from any other income;
  3. include a declaration that such provisional return includes a full and reasonable estimate of the person’s income for the 2020 charge year; and
  4. be designated in Kwacha.

If you dido not file a provisional return on or before 31 March 2020, you will may be charged a penalty and the ZRA may estimate your income liable to tax (based on information reasonably believed to be true) and compute your provisional tax liability based on rates applicable for the 2020 charge year. The ZRA will then serve you with a notice specifying the amount of income that has been estimated as well as the provisional tax liability computed. Please note that once served on you, the notice will be deemed to be your provisional return of income and tax but will not relieve you of the obligation to file the provisional income tax return nor extinguish the penalty for failing to submit the provisional income tax return. If you are served with a notice by the ZRA, and you then file your provisional income tax return, the notice served by the ZRA will cease to have effect.

Once the provisional income tax return has been filed, your first instalment tax is was due on 31 March 2020. You can make an e-payment of your provisional taxes due if your bank’s banking system is connected with the ZRA’s TaxOnline system. Amongst the commercial banks connected to the ZRA’s TaxOnline system is First Alliance Bank, First Capital Bank, First National Bank, Investrust and Stanbic Bank Zambia Limited.

You should however note that where the ZRA discovers that your income has been so understated that the tax on the return has been underpaid by at least one-third, then you will be liable to a penalty of 25% of the tax which has been underpaid. However, if you discover during the course of this year that the income you estimated in your provisional income tax return is likely to be incorrect because of changed circumstances, you can furnish a revised return of your provisional income and the ZRA will take into account the revised estimated tax in the next instalment.

You should further note that it is in the sole discretion of the Commissioner-General of the ZRA to extend the time within which you may pay your instalment tax and if you do not do so, you may be liable to a penalty of 5% of the tax unpaid for each month or part thereof and interest at the Bank of Zambia Discount rate plus 2% per annum. Currently the ZRA have not issued a notice extending the time within which instalment tax can be paid.

My tax return is due soon. What should I do?

Ethiopia - Mesfin Tafesse & Associates

Tax declarations and payments are expected to be executed within the timelines provided under the respective tax laws unless the government waives the obligation to file tax returns on the legally prescribed timeline. The Ministry of Revenue has not extended the tax filing periods following COVID-19 and the declaration of the State of Emergency. On the contrary, the Ministry has directed tax payers to file their reports using e-filing since the government is in need of finances to cope with the financial challenges of COVID-19.

Kenya - Anjarwalla & Khanna

Annual self-assessment tax returns should be filed with the KRA not later than the last day of the 6th month following the end of the accounting period. Most companies have a 31 December year end and the deadline for filing their tax returns is therefore the 30th day of June of every year. Should it be apparent that you will not be in a position to file your tax returns by the due date, for example due to the financial audit for the previous year not having been concluded or lack of data due to unavailability of staff, you may make a written application to the Commissioner for an extension of time to submit the return. This application should be made at least 15 days before the due date of a monthly return or at least 30 days before the due date for an annual return.

The Commissioner, if satisfied that there is a reasonable cause, may grant the extension and notify the applicant accordingly at least 5 days before the due date of either a monthly or annual return. The effect of having the Commissioner grant an extension of time is that any penalties that would have otherwise been triggered for late fling will not apply. It is important to note that based on current law, only one extension may be granted to an applicant in respect of one tax period.

Malawi - Savjani & Co.

Income tax returns are due within 180 days from the end of the year of assessment (“year of assessment” means any period of twelve (12) months in respect of which the tax leviable under the Malawi Taxation Act is chargeable), unless the taxpayer is able to show good cause why he/she cannot render the return within the 180 days allowed.  If the taxpayer requires an extension, an immediate application should be made to the Commissioner General of the Malawi Revenue Authority (“MRA”) giving the reason for the request.

It should be noted that there is now legislation that provides for electronic filing of tax returns. Accordingly, there is no need for physical presence at the MRA in order to file the returns.

Under the provisions of the Malawi Taxation Act, a taxpayer is liable to heavy penalties and other possible sanctions, if he/she is late in submitting the tax return form.

Mauritius - BLC Robert & Associates

Annual self-assessment corporate tax returns should be filed and the tax paid with the MRA not later than 2 days (excluding Saturdays and public holidays) before the end of the accounting period. 

The deadline for filing tax returns for companies that have a 30 September year end is the 28th day of March of every year.

The facilities for the electronic submission of tax returns and electronic payment of any tax due are available on MRA website (www.mra.mu) during the lockdown period. Should it be apparent that you will not be in a position to file your tax returns by the due date due to the curfew or lock down, you will not be penalised for any delay. Companies who are unable to submit returns or effect payment of tax due to the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown will not be charged any penalty or interest for late submission/payment.

Nigeria - G.Elias & Co.

Tax returns in Lagos and Abuja can be filed electronically and therefore may not be affected by the restrictions of movement in Abuja, Lagos and Ogun State announced by the President pursuant to the COVID-19 Regulation, 2020. Where the taxpayer is unable to file the returns electronically, the taxpayer can approach the tax authority for an extension of time within which to file her tax return, before the tax return becomes due for filing. The law empowers the tax authority to grant such an extension where reasonable cause is shown. COVID-19 should qualify as a reasonable cause. The law does not specify how long the extension may last, thus leaving the tax authority with some discretion.

In the case of tax payable to the Federal Government and the Lagos State Government, the need to apply for a formal extension may not arise. This is because the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) has issued directives extending the time for filing of Value Added Tax (VAT) and WHT from the 21st day to the last working day of the month following the month of deduction. Also, the FIRS has extended the due date for filing Companies Income Tax (CIT) by 30 days. The FIRS also intends to publish on its website information requests for desk reviews and tax audits and create a portal where such information can be uploaded to its database for online access review.

Similarly, the Lagos State Internal Revenue Service (LIRS) has extended the deadline for filing annual tax returns for employees (but not for pay-as-you-earn deductions) and self-employed persons by two months from 31 March 2020. Consequently, the new filing deadline for the returns is 31 May 2020.

For the other tax authorities in the remaining 35 states, a formal application for extension of time will need to be made.

Rwanda - K. Solutions & Partners

Annual self-assessment tax returns should have been filed with the Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA) by 31 March 2020.

However, the Commissioner General of the RRA made a public announcement and extended this period as follows:

  • Declaration and payment of income tax for large taxpayer was extended to 15 April 2020; and
  • Declaration and payment of income tax for small and medium taxpayers was extended to 30 April 2020.

Uganda - MMAKS Advocates

Annual self-assessment tax returns should be filed with the Uganda Revenue Authority not later than the last day of the sixth month following the end of the year of income. Most companies have a 31 December year end and the deadline for filing their tax returns is therefore the 30th day of June of every year. Should it be apparent that you will not be in a position to file your tax returns by the due date, for example due to the financial audit for the previous year not having been concluded or lack of data due to unavailability of staff, you may make a written application to the Commissioner for an extension of time to submit the return. This application should be made by the date on which the return is required to be submitted.

The Commissioner, if satisfied that there is a reasonable cause, may grant the extension and notify the applicant in writing. The extension of time granted to file the return shall not exceed an aggregate period of 90 days. The Commissioner may also allow an application for extension of time after the expiry of the due date, if the Commissioner is satisfied that the failure to furnish a tax return was due to exceptional circumstances. The effect of having the Commissioner grant an extension of time is that any penalties that would have otherwise been triggered for late filing will not apply.

Furthermore, according to the Uganda Revenue Authority COVID Guidelines, taxpayers whose accounting date is in September 2020 and are unable file corporation tax returns by 31 March 2020, have been granted an extension of two (2) months to May 2020. Taxpayers whose tax returns for March 2020 are due by the 15 April 2020 and are unable to file the returns have been granted an extension to file the returns by 30 April 2020. This extension applies to Value Added Tax (VAT), Pay As You Earn (PAYE), Excise duty, Withholding tax and taxes under the Lotteries and Gaming Act.

Has there been any tax relief measures announced by the government as a result of COVID-19?

Ethiopia - Mesfin Tafesse & Associates

No. The federal government has not yet announced tax relief measures for businesses on the basis of COVID19 although relevant government officials indicated in various fora that this is being discussed as a timely agenda. The Addis Ababa City Administration has however announced that it is planning to provide a tax exemption to all business for the last quarter of the year.

According to the proposal, Category C taxpayers as well as all rental income taxpayers in all categories will be exempted from income tax for the period starting April 2020 until the end of June 2020. In terms of employment income, employees will pay 50% of their normal tax liability for three months as of April 2020. In addition, the tax bureau has proposed to waive tax liability arising from penalty and interest.

On the other hand, the Ministry of Finance has provided tax and duty-free privileges to medical supplies such as test kits/apparatus, protective garments, thermometers, disinfectants, medical consumables, to support the COVID-19 response.  Furthermore, in order to aid companies with cashflow, the government announced that it will expedite VAT returns.

Due to absence of key staff in our accounting department, we have just realised that we missed the deadline for filing an objection to a tax assessment– what should we do?

Ethiopia - Mesfin Tafesse & Associates

One may apply in writing to the Ministry of Revenue for an extension of time to lodge an objection provided that you can prove that:

  1. You were unable to lodge the notice of objection within the period specified in the law due to absence from Ethiopia, sickness, or other reasonable cause (in this case, the COVID-19 pandemic); and
  2. You did not unreasonably delay the lodging of your notice of objection.

It is important to note that the tax review department is currently accepting and filing grievances arising from tax assessments as well as applications to request for extension of time to lodge an objection.

Kenya - Anjarwalla & Khanna

You may make a written application (justifying the delay) to the Commissioner for an extension of time to lodge a notice of objection.

The Commissioner may allow an application for the extension of time to file a notice of objection if:

  1. the taxpayer was prevented from lodging the notice of objection because of an absence from Kenya, sickness or other reasonable cause (in this case, the COVID-19 Pandemic); and
  2. the taxpayer did not unreasonably delay in lodging the notice of objection.

Malawi - Savjani & Co.

Objections may be lodged against a tax assessment by the Commissioner General or Administrative officer, within thirty (30) days of the date of the assessment, if a taxpayer does not agree with the assessment. It should be noted, however, that the Commissioner or Administrative officer may, before or after the expiration of the thirty (30) days, extend the time for appealing if satisfied that reasonable grounds exist for delay. Such ground should therefore be notified to the Commissioner or Administrative officer as soon as practicable.

Mauritius - BLC Robert & Associates

A person dissatisfied with the tax assessment issued to him may file an objection by filing an application in a form approved by the Director-General of the MRA within 28 days of receiving the tax assessment. The form may be sent by registered post or submitted electronically.

In case the objection is lodged outside the delay of 28 days, the MRA will consider the objection as valid on condition that the taxpayer proves to the satisfaction of the MRA that he was unable to object in time because of illness or other reasonable cause (in this case, the COVID-19 Pandemic lockdown). We are the view that the current situation will be considered as a reasonable cause.

Nigeria - G.Elias & Co.

Nigerian law makes provisions for the extension of time where a taxpayer is unable to file an objection to administrative assessments by the tax authority within the 30 days provided by law. However, the ground assumed in law is that such a person must be outside Nigeria at the time the assessment was served and was therefore unaware of the tax assessment. Where the taxpayer is in Nigeria and aware of the tax assessment, but due to the COVID-19 lockdown or restrictions was unable to object, an application should be made to the tax authority setting out the circumstances. The tax authority in such a situation has the discretion to consider the application, reject it or issue a new assessment.

Rwanda - K. Solutions & Partners

You may make a written application to the Commissioner General, seeking an extension of time to lodge a notice of objection, based on justifiable grounds, for example the COVID-19 pandemic. Nevertheless, taxpayers can get services through the eTax system.

The grant of extension of time to file the notice of objection will be given at the discretion of the Commissioner General.

Uganda - MMAKS Advocates

You may make a written application (justifying the delay) to the Commissioner for an extension of time to lodge a notice of objection. The Commissioner, if satisfied with the grounds upon which the application is made, may grant the extension for such period as the Commissioner determines.

Zambia - Musa Dudhia & Co.

You may make a written application (justifying the delay, such as the COVID-19 pandemic) to the Commissioner - General for an extension of time to lodge a notice of objection. However, please note that the Commissioner-General has the sole discretion to determine that your objection may be made within a longer period than that stipulated by the law. It is however pertinent for you to note that despite you filing/ not filing an objection to the ZRA’s tax assessment, the tax assessed will still remain due and payable on the date notice of the assessment was given to you. Currently, the ZRA has not issued an amnesty on this rule and as such, taxes will still need to be paid despite an objection having been made.

I have an on-going case at the Tax Appeals Tribunal (TAT) which is due for hearing or mention. What will happen?

Ethiopia - Mesfin Tafesse & Associates

The Tax Appeal Commission has suspended hearings during this period and has adjourned pending cases that were to be heard between March 2020 and June 2020.

Kenya - Anjarwalla & Khanna

The Tribunal is suspending sittings during this period and the Secretariat will on the filing of urgent applications give directions on any hearings or mentions.

Malawi - Savjani & Co.

We currently do not have a lockdown in Malawi. The Chief Justice in Malawi has come up with measures adjusting the operations and processes of the Judiciary with a view to minimizing the health risks which COVID-19 poses. However, it should be noted that the Judiciary has not been suspended. As such, the hearing of cases is likely to continue.

Mauritius - BLC Robert & Associates

The Assessment Review Committee has suspended sittings during this period until further notice.

Nigeria - G.Elias & Co.

The President in the exercise of his powers under the Quarantine Act, has issued the Covid-19 Regulations, 2020 which provide that all citizens and residents of Lagos, Abuja and Ogun State are to remain in their homes, and all businesses and offices in the affected areas are to be fully closed, until an initial period of 14 days has expired.  Although an exemption has been granted to court matters that are urgent, essential or time-bound in line with the directives of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, it is not clear to what extent this exemption will impact the Tax Appeal Tribunal (TAT) because the TAT is strictly speaking not a court of law.

With respect to the remaining 34 states, proceedings at the TAT in the other 6 TAT Zones (each Zone covers several States) of the country can proceed only where the Governor of the State where the TAT is located has not imposed a curfew or lockdown in that State. To the extent that a lockdown or curfew has been imposed, in practical terms, no proceedings will be held at the TAT.

Uganda - MMAKS Advocates

On 19 March 2020, the Chief Justice of Uganda issued a directive suspending all court hearings and appearances for a period of 32 days with effect from 20 March 2020. In addition, the Uganda Revenue Authority also requested the Tax Appeals TAT to adjourn all cases at TAT until the expiry of 32 days as stipulated by the Government and the directive of the Chief Justice.

Contrary to the Chief Justices’ directive and Uganda Revenue Authority’s request, the TAT has agreed to scale down its activities but will continue to hear tax disputes subject to the guidelines issued by the Government. Despite the above position taken by the TAT, we understand that the Uganda Revenue Authority is not attending any hearings and matters are being adjourned to the next available date.

Zambia - Musa Dudhia & Co.

It is likely that the hearing of your matter before the Tribunal will take off continue as the Tribunal has not yet suspended sittings during this period. Attendance at hearings has however been limited to litigants and their counsel only. Further ongoing advice may be sought from the Tribunal either via email – rat@zamnet.co.zm or by telephone +260 211 228 975/ 260 211 232 688.

What happens with ADR meetings with the revenue authority in my country?

Kenya - Anjarwalla & Khanna

As of 19 March, the KRA is still holding physical ADR meetings but limiting the number of participants. In the meantime, they are also exploring means of holding meetings through tele-conferencing or video conferencing. We are in touch with the team and will update on developments as we receive them.

Malawi - Savjani & Co.

We currently do not have a lockdown in Malawi. As such, the assumption is that such meetings will continue subject to any conditions that the MRA may impose.

Mauritius - BLC Robert & Associates

Owing to the curfew, all ATDR panel meetings have been postponed. The ATDR Panel will revert back to the taxpayer with new dates.

Uganda - MMAKS Advocates

The Uganda Revenue Authority is no longer having physical ADR meetings unless in exceptional circumstances. The Uganda Revenue Authority is exploring other means of holding meetings through tele-conferencing or video conferencing.

Zambia - Musa Dudhia & Co.

As of 20 March, the ZRA was still holding physical ADR meetings but limiting the number of participants. Health measures such as sanitizing of hands and social distancing was encouraged at the ZRA’s premises with no shaking of hands by participants.

How will I file an appeal during this period?

Ethiopia - Mesfin Tafesse & Associates

One can file a notice of appeal within 30 days after notice of the decision. The Tax Appeal Commission has not suspended its functions amid the pandemic.

Kenya - Anjarwalla & Khanna

The Tribunal is suspending sittings during this period and the Secretariat will, on the filing of urgent applications, give directions on any hearings or mentions. Following a notice from the Secretary of the TAT, with effect from 19 March 2020 :

  1. Parties with matters before the TAT will not be allowed entry into the TAT Registry; and
  2. All documents (notices and memoranda of appeal, statements of facts, submissions, urgent application and filing fee deposit slips) are to be forwarded on email to the TAT.

Malawi - Savjani & Co.

As stated above, the Judiciary is still functioning. As such, any appeal can be filed with the court.

Mauritius - BLC Robert & Associates

Any party who is dissatisfied with the decision of the ARC on a point of law may lodge an appeal with the Supreme Court. The aggrieved party should, within 21 days of the date of the decision of the ARC, lodge a written application requiring the ARC to state and sign a case for the opinion of the Supreme Court on the grounds specified in the case.

Following communication from the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, the Supreme Court has suspended sittings with effect from 23 March until further notice, except on urgent applications. In the event the appeal cannot be lodged within the time frame, it will in our view be considered as an excusable delay.

Nigeria - G.Elias & Co.

As noted under (4) above, the President has issued a lockdown in respect of Lagos, Abuja and Ogun State. In practical terms, it will not be possible to file an appeal at the TAT in these areas during this period of lockdown. Appeals can be filed at the TAT in other Zones only with respect to matters in which those Zones enjoy territorial jurisdiction. However, this will only be possible if the state where the TAT is located in that Zone has not imposed a lockdown or curfew.

Rwanda - K. Solutions & Partners

The RRA has not suspended its activities. Therefore, one can still file an appeal, since the filing is done online through the eTax system. The email addresses and contact numbers of persons in the legal department responsible for receiving appeals are displayers on the RRA’s website.

Uganda - MMAKS Advocates

The Tax Appeals Tribunal is still operating subject to the guidelines issued by the Government. In this regard, an appeal can still be filed at the Tribunal and also served on the Uganda Revenue Authority.

Zambia - Musa Dudhia & Co.

The Tribunal is still sittingcontinues to sit during this period and as such, appeals can still be filed and the hearing of matters is still ongoing. However, members of the public have been advised to visit the Tribunal premises only when necessary and the Secretariat Staff of the Tribunal may be contacted for any information between 8:00 and 16:00.

What happens when an Agency Notice is issued during this period?

Ethiopia - Mesfin Tafesse & Associates

The normal appeal process applies. Upon receiving notice of a tax assessment, one may file an objection with the review department within the prescribed time, which is normally 21 days from the date of receiving the notice. During the period in question, the review department is open and receiving applications. However, hearing and questioning persons relevant to the case is not taking place.

Kenya - Anjarwalla & Khanna

It is now the case that applications for stay of Agency Notices are sought at the TAT. The Secretariat will be open during this period and any urgent applications can be filed. They will give directions on the hearing of urgent applications. In the instance that all available remedies have been exhausted in seeking relief from Agency Notices (including seeking relief from the TAT), an application may be made in the High Court to seek such relief. We understand that urgent applications are currently being filed and heard by the High Court.

Mauritius - BLC Robert & Associates

There is no delay under Mauritius law to deliver a judgement. It can be done electronically as well.

Uganda - MMAKS Advocates

It is highly unlikely that the Uganda Revenue Authority may issue an Agency Notice during this period. However, in the unlikely event that an Agency Notice is issued, the taxpayer may seek injunctive measures from either the Tribunal, in case there is already a tax appeal filed, or the High Court by filing a Judicial Review application together with a temporary injunction and interim order applications accompanied by a Certificate of Urgency application. According to the Chief Justices’ directives, all Court hearings are suspended except for applications for Certificate of Urgency. In this regard, urgent applications are currently being filed and heard by the High Court.

Zambia - Musa Dudhia & Co.

Once an agency notice has been issued and a garnishee order obtained by the ZRA, any freezing of your bank accounts, etc. can only be lifted if you enter into a time to pay agreement with the ZRA or if you settle all the taxes due. Unfortunately, a stay cannot be obtained from either the Tribunal or the Court of Appeal.

How will judgements be delivered by the Tax Appeals Tribunal during this period?

Ethiopia - Mesfin Tafesse & Associates

Following a notice from the Tax Appeal Commission, with effect from 25 March 2020, no judgments will be rendered until 13 June 2020. The Commission is only accepting fresh applications to ensure applicants are meeting the deadline prescribed by the relevant tax law.

Kenya - Anjarwalla & Khanna

Following a notice from the Secretary of the TAT, with effect from 19 March 2020, communication from parties to the suit and from the TAT (i.e. orders, judgments) shall be made through email. The Tribunal will communicate with parties to the suit to collect Judgements from the Secretariat and will also send them electronically to the Parties.

Malawi - Savjani & Co.

As stated above, the Chief Justice in Malawi has come up with measures adjusting the operations and processes of the Judiciary with a view to minimizing the health risks which COVID-19 poses.  Some of the measures include:

  1. adjournment of non-urgent matters,
  2. reducing the number of people attending court and where practicable, and
  3. subject to law, conducting court proceedings by teleconference or video conference.

In an Executive Communication dated 1st April 2020, the Malawi Law Society similarly encouraged the country’s legal profession to use these alternatives for proceedings in and out of court wherever possible.

On 20th March 2020, the President of Malawi declared a state of disaster under section 32 of the Disaster Preparedness and Relief Act (Cap. 33:05 of the Laws of Malawi) (DPRA), owing to the global COVID-19 pandemic. A declaration of a state of disaster allows coordination and implementation of measures to alleviate effects to disasters such as the pandemic.

On 2nd April 2020, the President confirmed the existence of three (3) COVID-19 cases in the country and undertook to announce further preventative measures in due course. On 4th April 2020, the President announced additional preventative measures. As at 8th April 2020, Malawi had reported eight (8) confirmed cases and one death.

The DPRA
The DPRA provides that a declaration of a state of disaster will remain in force for a period of three (3) months from the date specified in the declaration as the commencement date of the state of disaster, unless the President withdraws such declaration before the expiry of such period. However, the President may, from time to time, extend or further extend such period by not more than another three (3) months.

Upon declaring a State of Disaster in the country, the Malawi Government put in place the following measures, among others:

  1. Ministry of Health and Population is redeploying health personnel in all border posts and continues screening and surveillance of people in all entry points;
  2. Government has suspended hosting of international meetings and banned public servants from attending both regional and international meetings being hosted by affected countries. The ban has been extended to all people travelling on other government-related activities such as sports;
  3. Government is advising the general public to avoid non-essential travel to the affected countries;
  4. Government has directed that all schools, colleges (including technical colleges), both public and private universities should be closed by Monday, March 23 2020;
  5. Government is restricting public gatherings to less than 100 people. This restriction applies to all gatherings including weddings, funerals, church, congregations, rallies, government meetings etc. The national security apparatus has been ordered into action to enforce these restrictions;
  6. Government has banned travel of foreign nationals from countries highly affected by coronavirus disease. However, SADC countries are exempted. Returning residents and nationals from Coronavirus affected countries will be subjected to self or institutional quarantine.

On 4th April 2020, the President announced additional preventative measures which include:

  1. A direction to instruct the Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) to open tax compliance window for a period of six months to allow tax payers with arrears to settle their tax obligations in instalments without penalty;
  2. A direction to apply tax waivers on importation of essential goods for Coronavirus management. These include personal protective equipment, hand sanitizers, soaps, and water treatment chemicals;
  3. A direction to waive resident tax on all foreign doctors and medical personnel;
  4. A direction to increase Malawi Enterprise Development Fund loans allocation from K13 billion to K15 billion in order to help Micro, Small and Medium Scale businesses that have been seriously affected by the pandemic;
  5. A direction to reduce fees and charges on all electronic money transactions in order to promote use of electronic money transactions; and
  6. A direction to the Reserve Bank of Malawi to:
    1. implement a win-win arrangement with commercial banks and Micro-Finance Institutions to observe a three-month moratorium on interest and principal repayments for all loans contracted by Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises;
    2. cushion the foreign exchange market to ensure availability of forex and stability of the foreign exchange rate; and
    3. activate an Emergency Liquidity Assistance framework to support banks in the event of worsening liquidity conditions and to provide support to banks on a case by case basis.

As at 8th April, 2020, neither the President nor the Chief Justice had announced further preventative measures. However, parties should envisage the possibility of cases before the Special Arbitrator being delayed or adjourned as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic given the country’s state of disaster and confirmed cases.

Nigeria - G.Elias & Co.

The TAT can still deliver judgments during this period at the Zones where there is no movement restriction. This will not apply to Lagos and Abuja Zones where the President has given directives restricting the movement of persons and closure of government offices. To do so, the TAT would send notices to counsel but will necessarily limit the number of those who can be present at the delivery of the judgments to just the counsel and representatives of parties. However, there will be difficulties for clients and lawyers travelling from the restricted States to the TAT Zones in the States where no movement restriction is in force.

Uganda - MMAKS Advocates

Following a notice from the Chairman of the TAT, all Tribunal matters shall be handled in shifts but in compliance with the Government directives, which include not having public gatherings of more than ten (10) people. In this regard, the Tribunal will be able to issue judgements but in compliance with the Governments directives.

Zambia - Musa Dudhia & Co.

Judgments will be sent to the affected parties in accordance with the Tribunal’s established practice.

Value Added Tax (VAT) return – My first VAT return for 2020 is due on 20th April. What should I do?

Mauritius - BLC Robert & Associates

A VAT registered person has to submit monthly or quarterly VAT returns to the Mauritius Revenue Authority (MRA) as may be applicable.
The quarters end on 31 March, 30 June, 30 September and 31 December.

A return has to be submitted within 20 days from the end of the month or quarter to which it relates. Therefore the due date for submission of return for month of March or the quarter ended 31 March is 20 April.

The facilities for the electronic submission of VAT returns and electronic payment of any VAT due are available on MRA website (www.mra.mu) during the lockdown period.
However, companies who are unable to submit VAT returns or effect payment of tax due to the COVID-19 Pandemic lockdown will not be charged any penalty or interest for late submission/payment.

Remittance of PAYE withheld

Mauritius - BLC Robert & Associates

Employers are required to submit a monthly PAYE return electronically and include therein the details of all employees. At the same time, they are required to pay to MRA the amount of PAYE withheld.

The due date for submission of monthly PAYE returns  is the end of the month following that in which PAYE was withheld. This payment is made electronically. In any other case, the due date is 20 days after the end of the month in which PAYE was withheld. Thus, for the month of March, the due date for submission of PAYE returns and payment is 20 April.

The facilities for the electronic submission of tax returns and electronic payment of any tax due are available on MRA website (www.mra.mu) during the lockdown period.

However, companies who are unable to submit PAYE returns or effect payment of tax due to the COVID-19 Pandemic lockdown will not be charged any penalty or interest for late submission/payment.

What happens when a tax authority has issued an assessment or request for documents?

Nigeria - G.Elias & Co.

Tax authorities have deployed e-filing systems both before and following the outbreak of COVID-19. In addition, the Finance Act 2019, has now statutorily endorsed the filing of objection to an assessment through e-mails or online portals. Therefore, notices received from tax authorities should be responded to and, if there is any need to object, objections should be made timeously. Detailed objections and supporting documents may be sent later where the affected taxpayer was unable to forward the same at the time of submitting the objection online.

Contacts

Apollo Makubuya

Apollo Makubuya

Partner, MMAKS Advocates

Arshad Dudhia

Arshad Dudhia

Managing Partner, Musa Dudhia & Co.

Daniel Ngumy

Daniel Ngumy

Partner, Anjarwalla & Khanna

Eric Cyaga

Eric Cyaga

Partner, K. Solutions & Partners

Fayaz Hajee Abdoula

Fayaz Hajee Abdoula

Partner, BLC Robert & Associates

Foued Bourabiat

Foued Bourabiat

Managing Partner, Bourabiat Associés

Francisco Avillez

Francisco Avillez

Managing Partner, ABCC

Jason Harel

Jason Harel

Partner, BLC Robert & Associates

Kenneth Njuguna

Kenneth Njuguna

Partner, Anjarwalla & Khanna

Krishna Savjani

Krishna Savjani

Managing Partner, Savjani & Co.

Mesfin Tafesse

Mesfin Tafesse

Principal Attorney, Mesfin Tafesse & Associates

Oldivanda Bacar

Oldivanda Bacar

Partner, ABCC

Paulo Centeio

Paulo Centeio

Partner, ABCC

Romain Frédéric Rabillard

Romain Frédéric Rabillard

Partner, BFR & Associés

Sahondra Rabenarivo

Sahondra Rabenarivo

Managing Partner, Madagascar Law Office

Salimatou Diallo

Salimatou Diallo

Partner, SD Avocats

Stephen Zimula

Stephen Zimula

Partner, MMAKS Advocates