Taxpayers Day: Top leaders root for more compliance

More business owners should strive to pay their taxes in time to drive the country’s economy to self-reliance, top leaders have said.

The call was made, yesterday, at the celebration of the ‘2016 Taxpayers’ Appreciation Day’ in Kigali officiated by Prime Minister Anastase Murekezi.

The premier, along with Finance and Economic Planning minister Claver Gatete, the Commissioner General of the Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA), Richard Tusabe, as well as representatives of the private sector, were united in call for more tax compliance.

“Taxes are important. They help us to have a say on the international arena. The more we depend on hand-outs the more our value decreases as a country. Self-financing for our budget is critical for our self-determination,” Murekezi said.

The taxpayers’ day was marked under the theme of “Voluntary tax compliance, the pillar for self-reliance,” which the premier said should be a source of inspiration for successful tax collection.

The day, which also involves the recognition of exemplary taxpayers, is an annual event organised to extend gratitude to esteemed compliant taxpayers and their contribution to economic development.

With figures from RRA showing that about 70 per cent of collected taxes are remitted voluntarily, leaders called for more tax compliance and promised more action towards achieving that goal.

Prime Minister Murekezi said the Government will distribute more electronic billing machines (EBMs) to help taxpayers easily pay their taxes, enforce sanctions against tax evaders, and generally increase campaigns for tax compliance.

“All Rwandans and the country’s institutions should fight tax evasion. Those who are not paying taxes should be sensitised about the benefit of paying taxes. Those who will continue to ignore paying taxes will face the wrath of the law, but that’s not what we want; what we want is for them to be able to pay the taxes,” Murekezi said.

Improving efficiency

Officials at RRA have vowed to use tools such as electronic filing (e-Filing), mobile declaration (m-Declaration), m-Payment, EBMs, and MobiCash to enhance efficiency in tax collection.

RRA targets to collect Rwf1084.4 billion for the 2016/17 fiscal year, which accounts for 55.6 per cent of the Rwf1,949.4 billion National Budget.

“We will continue to sensitise Rwandans to pay taxes, scale up the number of taxpayers and increase efforts against tax evasion,” said Tusabe.

RRA also seeks to collect Rwf49.2 billion for local governments, which are revenues collected on behalf of districts across the country.

The revenue targets are higher than last fiscal year’s output given that Rwf983.4 billion was collected for 2015/16 in central government taxes, while Rwf40.5 billion was raised from local government.

Speaking on behalf of taxpayers, the Chairperson of Private Sector Federation (PSF), Benjamin Gasamagera, pledged cooperation in paying taxes.

“I would like to urge all businesses in the country to continue working with the government, through RRA, to pay their taxes. That’s well in line with our vision for self-reliance,” he said.

Some of the big and small companies in the country were also recognised for consistently paying taxes, with MTN RwandaCell, Crystal Ventures Ltd, I&M Bank, and Cimerwa Ltd emerging among the best among big taxpayers.

Paint producer Ameki Colour and Bank of Kigali were also recognised as long-time exemplary taxpayers for the last 10 years.

In the entire last month leading up to yesterday’s celebration of the ‘2016 Taxpayers’ Appreciation Day,’ different tax awareness events were held across the country such as meetings with business owners and appreciation of most compliant taxpayers at the provincial level.