VAT withholding tax and its impact on vat compliance: evidence from the Zimbabwe revenue authority

Author: Blessings Majoni (

ISSN: 2709-8575
Affiliations: Revenue Specialist, Zimbabwe Revenue Authority
Source: African Multidisciplinary Tax Journal, 2021 Issue 1, p. 228-243


Value-added tax (VAT) withholding tax is a key instrument used in various tax administrations to curb revenue leakages that emanate from clients that charge VAT on their services and supplies and then fail to remit it to revenue authorities. The Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) implemented VAT withholding in 2017 with the expectation that it would positively affect VAT compliance. The motivation of this study therefore arises from the knowledge that a number of developing countries are considering implementing a withholding tax mechanism on VAT. In addition, a number of developing countries such as the Philippines, Ethiopia and Ghana, have implemented VAT withholding tax with varying outcomes. Public finance literature on the empirical analysis of VAT withholding tax is, however, limited as it requires administrative data that most tax researchers are not privy to. This paper sought to undertake a more comprehensive empirical investigation of the direct effect of the introduction of VAT withholding tax on VAT compliance. To estimate the empirical effect of VAT withholding tax on VAT compliance, this paper exploited data of VAT registered clients in ZIMRA over a 24-month period. The study used an ordinary least squares (OLS) multiple regression analysis to investigate the effects of VAT withholding tax on VAT revenue. The study further used a difference-in-differences estimator by classifying VAT taxpayers into two groups. Empirical evidence indicates that there is a positive significant relationship between implementing VAT withholding tax and VAT revenue in the ZIMRA scenario.