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Zimbabwe’s New Mobile Levy has been Criticized as Retrogressive

The country already levies a 25% tax on imports of smartphones and another on voice and data top-ups, has introduced a new $50 levy on imported cell-phone devices. This is part of a move to ramp up revenues to meet government expenditure which is expected to nearly double to $8 billion in 2022. Zimbabwe, whose economy is projected to grow by 5.5% next year according to the country’s finance minister, already levies a separate 2% tax on all electronic financial transactions. The new levy on imported handsets will take a novel form. Instead of the tax being collected by state revenue authorities on imported electronic gadgets, the Zimbabwean levy will be collectable by mobile operators on registration of the cell phones. This is to avoid people evading the tax by hiding new phones when imported.