The New Times (Kigali)

20 August 2014

Rwanda: Failure to Remit Collected Taxes Is Fraud

Rwanda has given herself an ambitious target of attaining a middle-class status by 2020. To realise that, the whole country will need to pull in the same direction. The most obvious avenue through which individuals and institutions can play a meaningful role in this endeavour is honouring their tax obligations.

Yet, strange as it sounds, some government agencies seem to be undermining this national effort. Otherwise what would explain the fact that some government agencies have made it a habit not to remit taxes to Rwanda Revenue Authority even when they have deducted the money from their employees? Needless to say is that this does not only affect the country's quest to become self-sustaining but also the tax body's revenue collection targets, which directly hurts public service delivery.

This anomaly has previously been pointed out in Auditor General's annual reports and, if news coming from Rwanda Revenue Authority is anything to go by, the situation seems to be getting worse.

Equally, millions of francs were never collected from contractors as the law requires. That there are clear guidelines for budget officers to follow - and they simply do not -shows that it is done intentionally. That's fraud.

Failure to collect taxes accordingly, let alone non-remittance of collected taxes, is punishable by law. This is a vice that can easily get out of hand if not nipped in the bud. If employers continuously fail to deduct or remit collected taxes how will government implement its development programmes?

Those behind this malpractice should not be let off the hook. They should be held accountable and, once convicted, be ordered to pay back what belongs to national coffers and put on the name and shame list to serve as deterrence.

Fixing such loopholes will boost tax collection and the country's economic agenda.

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