Zambia becomes second nation to tear up Mauritius tax deal
07 Jul 2020

Zambia has torn up its tax treaty with Mauritius, the latest African nation to cancel an agreement with one of the world’s leading offshore havens.

President Edgar Chagwa Lungu’s cabinet terminated the 2012 treaty and will soon start to negotiate a new deal, according to a statement obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.

The cabinet highlighted the southern African country’s inability under the current treaty to tax payments from certain operations that happen in Zambia but that are paid to companies in Mauritius.

Many Mauritius companies exist only on paper with no full-time employees and were created, at least in part, to avoid paying taxes, ICIJ revealed in its 2019 Mauritius Leaks investigation.

International Centre for Tax and Development lead researcher Martin Hearson said Zambia’s decision was “surprising” because Zambia and Mauritius have recently renegotiated other treaties. “It illustrates that there is a real case for countries to re-examine whether some of their tax treaties can realistically be renegotiated in a way that creates more benefits than costs,” Hearson said.

Speaking on the condition of anonymity, a senior Zambian official told ICIJ the treaty was “not balanced or fair.” Most firms that use the treaty “are not undertaking actual commercial activities in Mauritius and could be referred to as shell companies,” the official said. Zambia will now try to estimate the value of revenue lost under the deal, he said.

By Will Fitzgibbon, ICIJ, 6 July 2020

Read more at the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists

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