Billing machines slash tax payment process by 89 per cent

Professional accountants and tax advisors at the meeting at Rwanda Revenue Authority Headquarters in Kimihurura. / Julius Bizimungu.

The use of Electronic Billing Machines (EBMs) reduced the time it takes to file Value Added Tax (VAT) returns from 45 hours down to five hours, Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA) said yesterday.

This means it currently takes only five hours a year to settle tax obligations for all VAT-registered taxpayers, a situation RRA officials say has since improved efficiency, accountability and transparency. 

“Previously, it took 45 hours for a taxpayer to file and pay tax obligations, but a recent study showed that the process now takes just five hours in a year,” said Aimable Kayigi Habiyambere, the commissioner for domestic taxes at RRA.

This means that it takes about 25 to 30 minutes to file VAT returns a month, he said. “This has brought about efficiency and transparency in tax collection.”

He was speaking at a workshop in Kigali that attracted RRA officials, tax advisors and professional accountants under the Institute of Certified Public Accountants (ICPAR). 

The e-initiative, introduced in 2012, seeks to improve VAT compliance and promote business growth.

The study indicated that the use of EBMs was found to have contributed up to 6 per cent year-on-year to tax revenue since the launch of the electronic system, officials said.

Some Rwf352.4 billion was collected in VAT last year

According to Habiyambere, around 20,000 EBMs have so far been given out. He disclosed that authorities will soon roll out an upgraded version of the gadget to help counter tax defaulters.

Countering defaulters

The upgraded machine consists of an inbuilt programme that helps a trader to access information pertaining to their business transactions.

“The EBM version II [Supply Chain Management System] helps taxpayers to manage their business, because it allows them access to their daily sales even from different points. This helps them monitor the movement of their stocks,” he explained.

Kayigi said that RRA will also continue to educate members of the public and businesses on the importance of the system.

“Education is extremely important. We would like to see more taxpayers complying without having to be pushed. However, for those who do not comply, there is a law to be followed. More importantly, we are engaging consumers because we believe they can play a key role in promoting compliance,” he said.

Martin Nkurunziza, the chairperson of the Rwanda Association of Tax Advisors, told The New Times on the sidelines of the workshop that, indeed, the use of e-billing machines has made it easier for them to help taxpayers.

“The system has really simplified the work of professional accountants and tax advisors. It no longer takes a lot of time to audit because most of the information can easily be accessed through the machine,” he said.

He added that the tax advisors’ body has joined the drive so as to help promote efforts to raise public awareness about the electronic payment system.

Nkurunziza, however, said the Government needed to find a durable solution to occasional technical glitches that sometimes make it hard to access data on EBMs.

editorial@newtimes.co.rw

 

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