Ever since the tax body introduced Electronic Billing Machines (EBMs) over two years ago, many taxpayers have been complaining about challenges they face in using the machines. Some say the machines are also expensive while others claim invoicing using EBMs slows down operations.
The fact that one cannot use them if power goes off has not helped the matters. However, taxpayers that have used them ‘religiously’ are all praises, saying EBMs have eased business management, especially concerning tax payment.
Gad Sendakize, who operates a mini-supermarket in Kabuga town, said using EBMs has made it easier for him to monitor his business operations as it records sold items. “I used to hire an accountant to help me with my accounts previously to file my returns with Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA), but now this is no longer necessary,” he said.
Sendakize added that RRA verification exercise for the declared taxes was also a challenge as it, not only wasted traders time, but also affected their reputation in the neighbourhood. “When people see RRA officials at your business premises, they think you are a tax evader, and this used to hurt businesses,” he said.
He is, however, happy that such exercises are no longer required since the tax body is able to verify the transactions from their head offices since EMBs are linked to the tax authority’s network.
Vanessa Ingabire, a business owner in Kimironko, Gasabo District, said the system has eased the process of paying VAT “because EBMs facilitate communication with RRA on what amounts to be paid”.
“All one has to do at the end of every month is log onto RRA website to verify whether the value indicated is same as that recorded on the machine,” she said.
RRA speaks out
According to Emmy Mbera, the EBM project coordinator at RRA, using EBMs benefits all stakeholders, including tax administrators, the taxpayer and the public.
“Taxpayers using EBM can confirm that it constitutes an internal control tool as it helps in stock control, serves for accounting purposes, keeps information safely, as well as improves the level of transparency in their transactions,” he explained last week.
The machines also make it possible for the taxpayer and tax body to share information in real time, thus providing a channel for permanent dialogue between tax administration and taxpayers. Mbera said EBMs are a management tool that has helped improve revenue collections and eased the VAT refund process. “EBMs eased tax collection and are also expected to reduce the cost of auditing taxpayers,” Mbera said.
“EBM adoption rate was at 91 per cent of all VAT- per cent in 2015 compared to 2014,” he added.
According to EBM legal provisions, all VAT-registered taxpayers are required to buy and use EBM as their invoicing system. There are currently more than 13,633 EBMs being used by 11,730 VAT-registered taxpayers countrywide.
The machines were introduced in 2014 as part of efforts to improve tax administration using electronic platforms.