Traders face penalty over e-billing machines

Rwanda Revenue Authority has started penalising Value Added Tax (VAT) registered businesses that have not yet acquired electronic billing machines (EBMs), Richard Tusabe, the RRA Commissioner General, has said.
A trader in Quartier Matheus pulling a receipt out of the billing machine. (Timothy Kisambira)
A trader in Quartier Matheus pulling a receipt out of the billing machine. (Timothy Kisambira)

Rwanda Revenue Authority has started penalising Value Added Tax (VAT) registered businesses that have not yet acquired electronic billing machines (EBMs), Richard Tusabe, the RRA Commissioner General, has said.

Speaking on Monday after a tour of several downtown Kigali businesses, Tusabe said about 2,000 taxpayers were yet to buy the billing machines. The shop-to-shop check aimed at sharing challenges and experiences with the taxpayers as far as use of the machines is concerned.

The taxbody had set March 31 as the deadline for all VAT-registered businesses to have acquired EBMs or risk fines.

According to Rwanda Revenue Authority, there are about 7,500 businesses registered for VAT. However, only 4,000 enterprises had acquired the machines by the end of last month. 

About 1,000 businesses are exempted from using the billing machines because they either aren’t VAT-registered or issue less than 30 receipts a year.

Tusabe expressed disappointment over some of the 4,000 VAT-registered traders who have the machines but are not fully utilising them.

“We have started implementing the law. Those who are acting contrary to its provisions will be punished, depending on the size of the business,” he said.

Traders who don’t comply by the EBMs regulatory framework will be fined between Rwf5m and Rwf20m.

Tusabe dismissed as false complaints by some businesses that the machines are expensive, arguing that traders supposed to buy them are VAT registered, and earn not less than Rwf20m in annual sales.

“When the machines were introduced, they cost Rwf500,000 each, which has since dropped to Rwf300,000. This is affordable considering these companies’ annual income,” he said.

He added that the price of electronic billing machines could reduce further as more businesses embrace them.

“The process of having all businesses use these machines is a long one which also requires implementation of the law, sensitisation of traders and ascertaining the problems the business community faces in the process,” he said.

The machines are expected to ease tax collection and business management (on the part of traders).

Some of the traders who are using EBMs are all praises for the initiative, saying it eases accounting processes.

​“The billing machine makes bookkeeping easier. Customers have also embraced the culture of asking for receipts after buying,” said Therese Uwimana, the manager of Tropical Hardware store in the ‘Quartier Commerciale’ area.

​She, however, said it was not easy to print receipts for every customer at times, especially when one gets many​ clients at a ago.

​“There are customers who demand electronic billing machine receipts as well as those from the ordinary receipt book. So it becomes hard to prepare both, especially when customers are many. Besides, it makes it expensive in the long run,” she noted.

However, Tusabe discouraged traders from issuing customers manually-written receipts, saying that those from the electronic billing machines have all information a customer requires.​

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