IMF urges regional countries to develop effective taxpayer registers

Pascal Bizimana Ruganintwali, the Commissioner General of Rwanda Revenue Authority, speaks during the meeting in Kigali yesterday. Emmanuel Kwizera.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has rallied regional countries to develop effective taxpayer registers and maintain integrity during registration of taxpayers.

Accurate taxpayer lists and records, the Fund argues, will help regional economies to accurately forecast tax revenues and improve compliance to fund the region’s ambitious development projects.

The move follows widespread lack of compliance among taxpayers as regional tax bodies grapple with the mismatch between businesses registered for taxes and those that actually pay taxes.

The IMF made the call yesterday in Kigali at a regional workshop titled “Building Effective Taxpayer Register.”

Berlin Msiska, the Revenue Administration Advisor at IMF’s Regional Technical Assistance Centre for East Africa (IMF East AFRITAC), said; “Once you improve your taxpayer register, there must also be a process of sustainability in terms of ensuring that it is continuously updated, new taxpayers are coming in and the data is clean, and those who are inactive are being put aside.”

For Rwanda, Pascal Bizimana Ruganintwali, the Commissioner General of Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA) said when a business is registered with Rwanda Development Board (RDB), it secures a Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN), meaning its automatically subject to paying due taxes.

However, he revealed that there are people registered as taxpayers yet they do not pay taxes.

For instance, he said, there are people who open up consultancy businesses but fail to secure business.

He added that RRA regularly updates its list of taxpayers.

 “That is the work we have embarked on doing so that we gradually improve the taxpayer list for it to be accurate as it helps us in planning and forecast for tax collection. When we have many registered taxpayers, yet those who pay taxes are fewer, it has adverse effects on our projections,” he said.

Rwanda has about 174,000 registered taxpayers, according to figures from RRA.