Twenty years since Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA) was established, the contribution of taxes to the national budget increased from 36.3 per cent to 58.3 per cent to date, according to official statistics.
RRA was established as a quasi-autonomous body charged with the task of assessing, collecting, and accounting for tax, customs and other specified revenues.
According to statistics from RRA, in 1998 tax collections were a paltry Rwf62.8 billion, contributing 36.3 per cent the national budget of Rwf173.2 billion.
Both the budget and tax revenues have since risen substantially, reflecting a significant expansion of the economy, largely driven by a vibrant business class and increased public spending.
For instance, in the 2013/2014 fiscal year, Rwf763.4 billion was collected in taxes while the budget grew to Rwf1,677.7 billion.
In 2014/2015, the taxman collected Rwf859.1 billion which contributed to 48.7 per cent of the Rwf1.762.4 billion budget.
The contribution continued to increase; in 2016/2017 fiscal year, taxes collected were Rwf1,086.5 billion (55.6 per cent of the total budget of Rwf1,954.2 billion) while in 2017/2018 fiscal year, RRA collected Rwf1,234.2 billion, accounted for 58.3 per cent of the total budget worth Rwf2,115.4 billion.
Richard Tusabe, the Commissioner General of RRA, delivering a speech on Friday during the institution’s celebration of 20 years. Courtesy.
According to Richard Tusabe, the Commissioner General of RRA, last year RRA collected Rwf1, 252.6 billion in taxes against the target of Rwf1, 215.2 billion, which was achieved at 103.1 per cent.
He said, at the beginning, RRA faced many challenges stemming from limited knowledge of tax administration, poor tax laws and limited technology whereby taxpayers could make long queues for service.
“We want to expand sources of revenue by urging taxpayers to comply with (the) tax laws. We also deploy technology in tax administration. We are also putting efforts in building the capacity of our staff,” he said.
RRA is still challenged with the poor attitude from some taxpayers who are reluctant to adopt the use of EBMS, faking EBM receipts, smuggling of goods and those who are reluctant to declare taxes, Tusabe said.
Robert Bafakulera, the Chairman of the Rwandan Private Sector Federation (PSF), lauded RRA for helping to build the country through taxes over the last 20 years ago.
“It is a happy day for all Rwandans as we especially celebrate partnership of private sector with RRA in building the country by paying taxes,” he said on Friday last week as RRA celebrated 20 years of its existence.
The technology has eased tax declaration and solved some challenges that the business community used to face, he said.