Rwanda: RRA Concerned As Traders Shun Billing Machines
28 May 2014
The tax authority is concerned that many traders, especially in the small and medium business cluster, are scheming ways to avoid using the electronic billing machines, leading to loss of revenue through tax evasion.
The portable machines were introduced last year to electronically manage sales and invoice every transaction made by a goods or service provider.
Every transaction done at a point of sale would have its details stored and simultaneously transmitted to the Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA) database, thus enabling the easy calculation of taxes.
Although the regulatory agency has endeavoured to sensitise the business community about the benefits of the machines, some traders argue that they are “forced to use them.”
“The electronic billing machines are not useful when there is a blackout. They back up power for utmost an hour and yet we have experienced periods when power has gone for almost the whole day,” Ahmed Mazimpaka, a trader in Kigali, said. “This means that we have to close our shops and go home when load-shedding happens. These machines should improve trade instead of being a disincentive.”
Ironing out challenges:
Mazimpaka was appearing alongside scores of traders that attended a meeting organised by RRA that sought ideas on how to better use the machines.
The Commissioner General of RRA, Richard Tusabe, told the traders that rather than refuse to use the machines, they should report challenges they face early.
“It is a good sign if we all agree that the services provided by electronic billing are important for our economy. Otherwise, challenges such as their power backup can be tackled,” Tusabe said. “We have technicians who can improve the capacity of these machines or repair them whenever they are faulty. What we must do is embrace them and acknowledge their usefulness to normal business. Already you can see that no traders line up for hours at our offices to declare their VAT; the machines record all that information.”
Philbert Haragirimana, another trader, argued that RRA employed tactics to curb noncompliant traders, rather than insisting on sensitising them.
“It is common to find RRA workers setting traps to catch traders who do not comply with using the machines,” Haragirimana said.
The tax body set March 31 as the deadline for all VAT-registered businesses to have acquired the electronic billing machines or risk paying fines, but many did not respond to the directive. Last month, RRA reported that only 4,000 VAT payers acquired the machines as opposed to 7,500 traders.
Source: The New Times, Rwanda