Business owners who pay taxes well have been appreciated for being tax compliant and contributing to building the country while those who still dodge the duty were asked to change their mind-set.
The message was delivered yesterday by top leaders at the celebration of ‘2017 Taxpayers’ Appreciation Day’ in Kigali, officiated by Prime Minister Edouard Ngirente.
The premier said that taxes are very important in the country’s struggle for self-reliance, urging those who still fail to comply with tax rules to change ways.
“We need to know that no country can develop without the contribution of their citizens, especially through taxes. We remind those who don’t pay their taxes well and those who don’t pay them at all to change their mind-set and understand that paying taxes is everyone’s obligation,” he said.
Taxpayers’ Appreciation Day is an annual event organised by the Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA) to extend gratitude to esteemed compliant taxpayers and their contribution towards economic development of the country.
This year’s event was organised under the theme “My Tax, My Development, My Dignity’, a theme that Premier Ngirente described as important in reminding Rwandans about one of the best ways they can build a self-reliant country.
“The theme reminds us of everyone’s contribution in building and developing our country,” he said.
RRA collected Rwf1,102.8 billion for the financial year 2016/17, which exceeded the target for the fiscal year by Rwf8.6 billion.
Local government revenue collections also increased in comparison to previous years, with Rwf47.9 billion collected at the district level in the past financial year 2016/17 against the target of Rwf49.2 billion, while Rwf40.5 billion was raised from local government for the financial year 2015/16.
Speaking on behalf of taxpayers, the Chairperson of Private Sector Federation (PSF), Benjamin Gasamagera, pledged more cooperation in paying taxes and urged business people who are yet to make it a habit to comply with tax rules to do so.
He congratulated members of the private sector for having paid about 79 per cent of tax revenues in the financial year 2016-2017, saying that the fact makes entrepreneurs feel proud for contributing in the development of the country through paying taxes.
“I would like to call upon all the business people out there who are yet to understand the benefits of paying taxes well to change their mind-set,” he said.
He thanked RRA for extending technology to businesses that make it possible to easily pay taxes.
But he requested the body to move swiftly to address some challenges that still make business people feel reluctant to pay taxes such as the delay on the part of the tax collection body to pay VAT tax refunds to entrepreneurs on time.
“The deadline to pay the refund should be the same as the deadline for traders to pay taxes and fines,” he said, explaining that delays to pay the tax refunds make business people lose money because the refunds could be used for investments and operations if paid in time.
RRA Commissioner-General Richard Tusabe thanked Rwanda’s taxpayers for increasingly complying with the country’s tax rules, also pledging that the tax body will continue to make it easy for businesses to pay their taxes.
He said rra will continue to use latest technologies to facilitate tax collection, essentially pledging to enhance the use of tools such as electronic filing (e-Filing), mobile declaration (m-Declaration), m-Payment, EBMs, and MobiCash, among other means, to improve efficiency in tax collection.
“When you look at where we are as Rwanda in using technology, we feel that we have important data on taxpayers and we believe we can use the information to increase tax compliance,” he said.
For the current fiscal year 2017/18, RRA targets to collect Rwf1,200.3 billion, which accounts for 57.3 per cent of the Rwf2,094.9-billion National Budget.
The tax collection body targets to collect Rwf51.5 billion from local governments in the current financial, an increase of Rwf3.6 billion or 7.5 per cent in comparison to the last financial year.
At the celebrations yesterday, some of the big and small companies in the country were also recognised for reliably paying taxes, with Nakumatt supermarket, Le Carrefour supermarket, Sulfo Rwanda, and Hotel Chez Lando getting trophies for efficiently using e-billing machines (EBM) for their transactions.
Awards were also distributed in the categories of best compliant businesses among small taxpayers, medium taxpayers, as well as in the category of large taxpayers.
Trophies for large tax payers went Bralirwa Limited, MTN Rwanda, Rwanda Civil Aviation Authority, and Zigama CSS.
Best taxpayers at the provincial level were also recognised for being the best tax compliant businesses at the regional level, as well as best taxpayers in the category of ‘Made-In-Rwanda’ to encourage local manufacturing.
The Rwanda Defence Force (RDF) and the Rwanda National Police (RNP) were also recognised for being valuable partners in facilitating the RRA in doing its work.In the lead-up to yesterday’s celebration of the ‘2017 Taxpayers’ Appreciation Day,’ different tax awareness events were held across the country such as meetings with business owners and appreciation of most compliant taxpayers at the provincial level.