Govt launches system to optimize land-related revenue collection

Ernest Karasira, deputy commissioner for region and centralized tax addresses residents of Kinyinya during the official launch of RRA Iwacu campaign. / File

A new ICT based system that interconnects land-related data from Rwanda Land Management and Use Authority (RLMUA), Rwanda Housing Authority alongside Rwanda Revenue Authority is expected to improve land-related revenue collection, officials have said.

Ernest Karasira, Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA) Deputy Commissioner for regional and decentralized taxes, told Sunday Times that the system will increase tax collection.

“The system will help us improve property tax collection. The information we use to collect decentralized taxes is available in the land management authority but in RRA we were not easily accessing this information. So by linking the information systems with our Local Government Management Tax system, it will be easy to collect land-related taxes,” he said.

The ICT-based system interconnects three institutions; Land Administration Information System (LAIS) of Rwanda Land Management and Use Authority, Building Permit Information Management System (BPIMIS) of Rwanda Housing Authority and Local Government Management Tax system of Rwanda Revenue Authority.

He explained that the system will be constantly updating the Revenue Authority with any changes on land properties and thus update chargeable taxes.

It links the Unique Parcel Identifier (UPI) or land titles to TIN numbers of taxpayers.

“For example, if someone sells their property, the information will immediately be in the system accessible by RRA so as to tax the new property owner without taking time to trace the person,” he said.

The system will also incorporate an estimated value of the land, houses on the land which will ease RRA task to tax them.

Karasira said that with the new move, RRA will be able to increase regional and decentralized taxes to over Rwf67 billion this fiscal year from Rwf61.5 billion last fiscal year.

“Of this target, Rw10 billion will be land property-related taxes. Last fiscal year we collected Rwf7 billion even though we are still at the beginning of the year and we will start to collect land-based revenues in December, we hope that the new system will help us even in tracking tax arrears,” he said.

In the interconnected system, officials said, there is a list of all taxable lands from every district across the country.

The program was developed by the Institute of Applied Sciences (INES Ruhengeri) in partnership with German Development Cooperation (GIZ) after a bidding competition.

Dr. Fabien Hagenimana, the Vice-Chancellor of INES-Ruhengeri said that the system development was based on the fact some information on land properties would expire and become a challenge for Rwanda Revenue Authority to charge taxes due to lack of connectivity between land management information system and tax collection system.

Espérance Mukamana, the Director-General of Rwanda Land Management and Use Authority (RLMUA) said that there are over 12 million land parcels across the country.

“The system shows taxable and non-taxable land. This helps Rwanda Revenue Authority to easily collect taxes,” she said.

However, she said that there are some land parcels with no information.

“We tell owners of these land parcels to rush and register them. Otherwise, they will be registered as state land,” she said.

She added that they also want to go paperless whereby people will be paying taxes and accessing other services by presenting electronic land titles instead of hard copies.

“We are finalizing the study so that very soon, people will be accessing all services without necessarily using land titles in hard copies. For example, if there is land transfer, people can get their land titles online.

Property owners will be able to apply for any services such as paying taxes, requesting bank loans online using electronic land titles. This will solve the issue of high cost in printing these land titles we have been incurring,” she explained.