The New Times (Kigali)

Rwanda: Mixed Reactions Over the Use of Electronic Machines

Traders in kigali have expressed mixed reactions over the use of newly introduced electronic billing machines. Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA) hopes that the machines would ease the calculation of tax.

The machines were supposed to have been part and parcel of business in Rwanda by this month. However, only about 800 out of 10,000 taxpayers are using them, a phenomenon that forced RRA to extend the deadline to March 31, to give taxpayers more time to adopt the machines.

After the new deadline, any large taxpayer who fails to use the e-billing machines will be fined Rwf20 million; a medium tax-payer will be charged Rwf10 million, while small and micro taxpayers will pay Rwf5 million and Rwf1 million in fines, respectively.

"The machines are expensive. We have had about two meetings with RRA and we raised this issue. We will install them, anyway, because we respect directives from government, but I would be happy if the price was reduced, especially to help small businesses," Jackson Mureramanzi, a trader at Enlarge Limited, a hardware shop in Kimironko, said.

Unlike Mureramanzi, a counterpart adjacent to his shop bought the machine, and is of the view that regardless of the cost, the electronic billing machines are cost-effective and prevent many inconveniences involved in declaring tax.

"Ever since we got the machine, we no longer line up at RRA offices to find out how much tax we owe. The machine does that and we can know how much tax we owe after every transaction," Dative Muhongaire, a trader at Excella Quality Limited, said.

She added: "It isn't a question of price because the prices range between Rwf180,000 and Rwf45,000. All businesses can get whichever machine fits their pocket."

However, several traders in Nyabugogo, Remera and Kimironko said they had the impression that they would get the machines free of charge.

"We registered to receive these machines for free at RRA but in the end, only a few of us got them. RRA explained that the rest of us must buy them on our own, but we don't know the criteria they used to give out some for free," a bar owner in Nyabugogo, only identified as Ncogoza, said.

Another trader, Eric Mahoro, who is the store manager at Cheap Stores Hardware, Remera, said: "There are few suppliers of the electronic billing machines, yet we have been given only three months. RRA should make sure that there are several suppliers so that we get them easily and at cheaper prices because of the competition. Once there are many suppliers, the prices will also go down."

RRA responds

The revenue body insists the machines have to be procured and used. To encourage the use of electronic billing machines, RRA began rewarding cash and prizes to consumers who demand electronic receipts.

RRA this week announced the withdrawal of administrative privileges from all Value Added Tax registered taxpayers who did not comply with the first deadline of December 31, 2013, for acquisition of the machines.

The privileges to be stripped from non-compliant e-billing machine taxpayers include Quitus Fiscal, Blue Channel, Gold Card scheme and all installment payments for taxes, Drocelle Mukashyaka, the deputy commissioner for taxpayer services, said.

Tax clearance certificates and statement of arrears will be stripped from non-compliant taxpayers participating in public tenders.

The machines were introduced in February 2013 to facilitate the tax authorities in calculating VAT, while they also facilitate traders by recording stock. The use of the machines is also in part to discourage unscrupulous taxpayers who would engage in tax evasion by not issuing tax invoices to their clients.

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