Your Tax Obligation When Working for a Foreign-Based Employer

The digitalisation of work, accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, has enabled people to work globally, often for foreign-based employers while residing in their home countries. This shift offers numerous advantages, such as access to a diverse talent pool and potential cost reductions for employers. However, it also introduces complex tax implications for employees residing in Zimbabwe. This article provides an overview of the tax obligations for such employees, emphasising compliance with local laws to avoid legal issues and ensure fiscal contributions to the national economy.

Zimbabwe employs a source-based tax system, stipulating that taxes are due on income earned from activities conducted within its borders. This system is underpinned by the principle established in the tax case of CIR v Lever Brothers and Unilever Ltd, which establishes that the source of income is tied to the location and cause of income generation. For employees in Zimbabwe working this means any income earned for services rendered locally is subject to taxation by the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) despite the residence status of the employer.

For compliance, both resident and non-resident employers must register with ZIMRA within 14 days of employing someone above the tax-free threshold. Non-resident employers are further required to appoint a resident representative to handle Pay As You Earn (PAYE) obligations. If a foreign employer fails to register, the responsibility to ensure tax compliance falls on the employee, who must then file a tax return and directly pay the taxes due to ZIMRA. This process is crucial in preventing tax evasion and ensuring that income generated within Zimbabwe contributes to national revenue.7 

The enforcement of these tax obligations is strengthened by stringent banking regulations such the requirement of proof of the source of funds among other requirements. These measures are designed to curb money laundering and ensure comprehensive tax compliance, crucial for maintaining financial transparency. The implementation of these regulations has significant implications for both businesses and the economy. Foreign employers must navigate these local tax laws and administrative duties, potentially increasing operational burdens but crucial for legal compliance and smooth business operations. For the Zimbabwean economy, rigorous enforcement of tax laws ensures a fair tax system and equitable contribution to national revenues, which are vital for public services and infrastructure development.


In conclusion, the global shift towards remote work requires employees in Zimbabwe working for foreign-based employers to diligently comply with local tax laws. Understanding and adhering to these obligations not only avoids legal repercussions but also supports Zimbabwe’s economic stability and development. Both employees and employers must be well-informed about these regulations to ensure seamless financial transactions and contributions to the country’s fiscal health.

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