SPONSORED: Business people pledge their contribution to increase tax paying compliance

Participants at the Kigali Convention Center during the Tax Appreciation Day.

It should be everyone’s dignity to contribute towards the country’s self-reliant economy by paying their taxes on time, top leaders have said.

The call was made, at the celebration of the ‘2017 Taxpayers’ Appreciation Day’ in Kigali officiated by Prime Minister Eduard Ngirente.

The day, which also involves the recognition of exemplary taxpayers, is an annual event organized to extend gratitude to esteemed compliant taxpayers and their contribution to economic development while those who still dodge the duty were asked to change their mind-set.

The awards were grouped in eight categories. Nakumatt supermarket, Le Carrefour supermarket, Sulfo Rwanda, and Hotel Chez Lando got trophies for efficiently using of e-billing machines (EBM) for their daily transactions.

Awards were also distributed in the categories of best compliant businesses among small taxpayers, medium taxpayers, as well as in the category of large taxpayers.

Trophies for large tax payers went to Bralirwa Limited, MTN Rwanda, Rwanda Civil Aviation Authority, and Zigama CSS.

Medium tax payers trophies went to Acquired Boot Training company, Wood case technology limited and Mute line international, while the small taxpayers trophies went to remote partners limited , Fonda tee company, and Transunion Rwanda limited.

PSF Chairperson , Benjamin Gasamagera.

Best taxpayers at the provincial level were also recognized for being the best tax compliant businesses at the regional level, the trophies went to the track solution, Governors Camp Rwanda, Centre Bon Conseil, and Amako Paints limited.

Best taxpayers in the category of ‘Made-In-Rwanda’ were also recognized to encourage local manufacturing and the trophies for this category went to the East African granite industries, Stoke building limited, and Africa improved food Rwanda.

The Rwanda Defence Force (RDF) and the Rwanda National Police (RNP) were also recognized for being valuable partners in facilitating the RRA in terms of dealing with defrauders and ensuring transparency in services delivery. This year’s event was organized under the theme “My Tax, My Development, My Dignity’, a theme that Premier Ngirente described as important in reminding Rwandans about one of the best ways they can build a self-reliant country.

The Prime Minister, Dr. Ngirente said that taxes are very important, especially in this era that the country is striving for self-reliance, urging those who still fail to comply with tax rules to change ways.

“We need to know that no country can develop without the contribution of their citizens through taxes. We attribute the development we have in all sectors to increased tax paying compliance but we still want to achieve more. Therefore, we remind those who do not pay their taxes well and those who do not pay them at all to change their mind-set and understand that paying taxes is everyone’s obligation,” he said.

In the lead-up to the celebration of the ‘2017 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.

Governemt high officials at the Tax Appreciation Day.

With figures from RRA showing that they collected Rwf1,102.8 billion

for the financial year 2016/17, which exceeded the target for the

fiscal year by Rwf8.6 billion.

Local government revenue collections also increased in comparison to previous years, with Rwf47.9 billion collected at the district level in the past financial year 2016/17 against the target of Rwf49.2 billion, while Rwf40.5 billion was raised from local government for the financial year 2015/16.

RRA Commissioner-General Richard Tusabe thanked Rwanda’s taxpayers for increasingly complying with the country’s tax rules, also pledging that the tax body will continue to make it easy for businesses to pay their taxes.

He also attributed this success to institution of modern technologies and increased quality service delivery, transparency among others. He lauded electronic payment systems that have made it more convenient for people to pay taxes but also played a key role in bringing down tax trickles.

“The private sector is a valuable key player in achieving taxation target. 79% payment from the private sector, is something we applaud. We are committed to continue improving our services to meet more compliance with better approaches making it easier for all taxpayers to meet their obligations quickly, easily and cost-efficiently. But also we shall make equally sure that those who do not abide by the rules get punished,” he argued.

Speaking on behalf of taxpayers, the Chairperson of Private Sector Federation (PSF), Benjamin Gasamagera, thanked RRA for extending technology to businesses that make it possible to easily pay taxes.

“The private sector, having paid about 79% of tax revenues in the financial year 2016/17, it is something to be proud of not only feeling that they have contributed to overall development of the country but also it is a sign of how the private investment has grown.

He called upon all the business people out there who are yet to understand the benefits of paying taxes to change their mind-set. He also requested the RRA to address some challenges that still affect their businesses.

Commissioner General RRA, Richard Tusabe.

“The deadline to pay the VAT refund of 90 days should be removed and make it the same as the deadline of 15 days for traders to pay taxes and fines,” he said, explaining that delays to pay the tax refunds incur losses to them because the refunds could be used for investments and operations if paid in time.

Also, he asked that the taxes for casual labors to be removed as well as the loss carried forward of 5 years’ period to make it unlimited as it is in some other countries because they do not find it easy to recover from loss in only five years.

Way forward

For the current fiscal year 2017/18, RRA targets to collect Rwf1,200.3 billion, which accounts for 57.3 per cent of the Rwf2,094.9-billion National Budget.

The tax collection body targets to collect Rwf51.5 billion from local governments in the current financial, an increase of Rwf3.6 billion or 7.5 per cent in comparison to the last financial year.

RRA will continue to use the latest technologies to facilitate tax collection, to enhance the use of tools such as electronic filing (e-Filing), mobile declaration (m-Declaration), m-Payment, EBMs, and MobiCash, among other means, to improve efficiency in tax collection.

Despite an increase of about Rwf140.7 billion for national spending as outlined in the 2017/18 Budget, the Government has chosen not to impose additional taxes but tighten revenue collection measures.

This, RRA says, will significantly contribute to the Rwf2 trillion National Budget that will be domestically financed at 66 per cent, up from 62 per cent last year.

This ambition, in turn, means that RRA will have to step up tax collection efficiency to ensure tax compliance.

According to RRA Commissioner-General Richard Tusabe, among the avenues will be widening the tax base through public sensitization campaigns.

“In terms of widening the tax base, we are going to continue with sensitization to ensure that tools such as electronic billing machines (EBMs) are put to proper use and that the general public is aware of their role in boosting tax compliance.

With about 16,000 EBMs deployed currently, RRA is exploring prospects of introducing a version that is applicable with the e-Environment that the country is embarking on as part of the cashless economy. The tax body is also looking to introduce an application that can be used in place of the physical gadgets, thereby cutting the cost incurred in rolling out the machines and increase compliance.

“We will add about 10,000 machines this fiscal year, especially for the risky sectors. It will not be a one-size-fits-all machine. It will be tailored in terms of complexity and the nature of their operations,” Tusabe argued.