Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA) on 13 October held its annual national Taxpayers’ Day to show its appreciation of compliant taxpayers’ contribution to national development, and to sensitise others about the importance of paying taxes.
The event at the Radisson Blu Hotel and Kigali Convention Center (KCC) was held under the theme ‘My Tax, My Development, My Dignity,’ which the guest of honour, Prime Minister Edouard Ngirente, reflected the fact that taxes are one of the best ways to build a self-reliant country.
“This theme reminds us of everyone’s contribution in building and developing our country,” he said.
RRA collected Rwf 1.1 trillion in the financial year 2016/17, exceeding its target by Rwf 8.6 billion. Local government revenue collections also increased in comparison to previous years, with Rwf 47.9 billion collected at the district level, falling slightly short of the target of Rwf 49.2 billion yet still far exceeding the Rwf 40.5 billion raised in the financial year 2015/16.
The taxpayers’ awards were divided in eight categories. Nakumatt supermarket, Le Carrefour supermarket, Sulfo Rwanda, and Hotel Chez Lando got trophies for efficiently using electronic billing machines (EBM) in their daily transactions.
Awards were also given to the best small, medium and large taxpayers. In the last category, Bralirwa, MTN Rwanda, the Rwanda Civil Aviation Authority, and Zigama CSS were the winners, while the best medium taxpayers were Acquired Boot Training company, Wood Case Technology and Mute Line International. Among small taxpayers, the trophies went to Remote Partners, Fonda Tea Company, and Transunion Rwanda.
The best taxpayers at the provincial level were also recognized, with Track Solution, Governors Camp Rwanda, Centre Bon Conseil, and Amako Paints walking away with the prizes.
In the category ‘Made in Rwanda,’ the winners were East African Granite Industries, Stoke Building, and Africa Improved Foods Rwanda.
RRA also showed special recognition to the Rwanda Defence Force (RDF) and the Rwanda National Police (RNP) for being valuable partners in dealing with defaulters and fraudsters, and ensuring transparency in services delivery.
At the occasion, Prime Minister Ngirente underlined the importance of taxes to help the country become self-reliant, and urged those who still fail to comply with the tax regulation to change their ways.
“We need to realise that no country can develop without the contribution of its citizens through taxes,” he observed. “We attribute the development we see in all sectors to increased taxpaying 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.”
In the lead-up to the celebration of the ‘2017 Taxpayers ‘Appreciation Day,’ RRA held awareness events across the country such as meetings with business owners and appreciation of most compliant taxpayers at the provincial level.
RRA Commissioner General Richard Tusabe thanked taxpayers for increased compliance, and promised more efforts to make it easy for businesses to pay their taxes.
He also attributed this success to the use of modern technologies and increased quality of service delivery and transparency. He highlighted electronic payment systems that have made it easier for people to pay their taxes.
“The private sector is a key player in achieving the tax target; it represents 79% of our revenue, which is something we applaud. We are committed to continue improving our services with better approaches to make it easier for all taxpayers to meet their obligations quickly, easily and cost-efficiently. But we will also make sure that those who do not abide by the rules get punished,” Tusabe said.
Speaking on behalf of taxpayers, the chairman of the Private Sector Federation (PSF), Benjamin Gasamagera, thanked RRA for providing technology to businesses to make paying taxes easy.
“The fact that the private sector has paid 79% of the taxes is something to be proud of, not only because of the contribution to the development of the country, but also because it is a sign of how the private investment has grown,” he remarked.
While he called upon all businesspeople who are still lagging behind in paying taxes to change their mind-set, he also requested RRA to address some remaining challenges.
“The delay of 90 days to pay the VAT refund should be adjusted and made the same as the 15-day deadline for businesses to pay taxes and fines,” Gasamagera said, explaining that the longer delay for refunds incurs losses to entrepreneurs as they could be used for investment and operations if paid in time.
Also, he asked for the tax on casual labourers to be removed, and that the 5-year period for loss carried forward would become unlimited as it is the case in some other countries because it is not easy to recover from loss in only five years.
For the current fiscal year 2017/18, RRA targets to collect Rwf 1.2 trillion, which accounts for 57.3% of the Rwf-2.1-trillion national budget.
Local governments taxes are targeted at Rwf 51.5 billion, an increase of Rwf 3.6 billion or 7.5% in comparison to the previous financial year.
RRA will continue to use the latest technologies to facilitate tax collection, declaration and payment, by enhancing the use of tools such as electronic filing, mobile declaration, mobile payment, EBMs, and MobiCash, among others.
Despite an increase of about Rwf 140.7 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.
According to Tusabe, this means that RRA will have to improve its efficiency to ensure tax compliance and widen the tax base, among others through public sensitisation campaigns.
“We are going to continue with sensitization to ensure that tools such as EBMs are put to proper use and that the general public is aware of its role in tax compliance,” he said.
With about 16,000 EBMs currently in use, RRA is looking at the introduction of a version compatible with the electronic environment that is being promoted as part of the cashless economy. The tax body is also looking to introduce an application that can be used in place of the actual machines, thereby cutting the cost of distributing the EBMs and increasing compliance.
“We will add about 10,000 machines this fiscal year, especially for risk sectors,” Tusabe noted. “It will not be a one-size-fits-all, but tailored in terms of complexity and the nature of their operations.”
Read this article and more in issue n° 79 of Hope Magazine.