Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA) has given importers of products from China and United Arab Emirates up to December to clear issues related to tax compliance or face punitive measures.
This was announced yesterday at a consultative meeting between RRA and the importers in Kigali.
Raphael Tugirumuremyi, the Commissioner for customs services at RRA, said: “Tax documents sometimes do not match in a way that we have no clue about. Those who have such issues should fix them and contact us whenever they have a challenges or anything that is not clear about the [compliance] process.”
He said a team was on standby to help whoever needed assistance.
“Those who have inconsistent documents should fix all the issues not later than December or be fined,” he warned.
In August, a team of RRA officials conducted an assessment both in China and Dubai (UAE), to try and find out where it all goes wrong from the supplier to the destined importer.
It is reported that 12 per cent of importers were classified at medium and high risk situation in terms of compliance due to getting involved in tax mis-description, undervaluation and non-compliance.
Tugirumuremyi said importers have full responsibility to ensure the process is clear in order to avoid risks of paying higher taxes or being considered a non-compliant over inconsistent documents.
“There is a blame-game among suppliers, freight forwarders and importers over the errors on compliance documents. But the importer should be responsible for compliance because nothing can be done during the process without their approval,” he said.
According to RRA, in 2016, 1,197 out of 9,368 individual importers were non-compliant. Up to 796 of the non-compliant importers were classified as high risk while the remaining 401 were considered medium risk.
Meanwhile, the revenue body also highlighted 387 high risk importing companies as well as 252 medium importing companies, while tiles, woven fabrics as well as vehicles and accessories were identified as commodities that are at high risk importation in terms of tax compliance.
Gad Munyentwari, the RRA deputy commissioner for risk management, called for cooperation between tax administrators and business operators on tax compliance on imports, warning that legal action might be taken once they fail to.
“Penalties should be the last resort as long as importers are willing to cooperate and fix issues of compliance. Dialogue is a better way to address those issues. However, those who intentionally fail to comply will be held accountable and the law will take its course,” he said.
Lambert Ruvuzacyuma, one of the importers, said: “I think everyone knows the importance of taxes. We should not see RRA as an enemy to our business development but a regulator. We should be partners to the country’s economic progress,” he said.
Taxes from imports and exports currently contribute 30 per cent of total tax revenue.