Botswana: Burs Devises Interventions for Optimum Collection

Gaborone — Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS) collection target for financial year 2021/22 is set at P43.5 billion, approximately a three per cent increase of the previous year goal.

In an interview with BOPA recently, manager for Strategic Management and Planning Department at BURS, Mr John Soopu said they planned to achieve the target by intensifying tax audits basing them more on risk management and by continuing with operations to identify individuals and corporates who were non-compliant.

"BURS is currently engaged in a project to estimate the tax gap for Botswana and its results will provide information as to where the tax gap is and therefore assist BURS to focus there to collect more revenue," he said.

Mr Soopu specified the most impeding factors hindering revenue collection to be non-compliance by some members of the public due to partly lack of education on tax issues and partially deliberate tax evasion.

He identified tax avoidance by some corporate taxpayers through tax planning and transfer pricing and undervaluation, misclassification, and under-declaration of imported goods as other hindering factors to revenue collection.

In addition Mr Soopu cited smuggling of imported goods and volatility of SACU revenue, which sometimes resulted in decrease in annual revenue shares to members' states, as some of hindrances denying them optimum collection.

Speaking to issues concerning addressing the challenges experienced during revenue collection, Mr Soopu said BURS regularly conducted customer education workshops to educate taxpayers on tax and customs issues though presently COVID-19 had restricted the holding of these workshops.

However, he indicated that the current information dissemination was mainly through radio, television, and social media posts, mainly Facebook.

Moreover, Mr Soopu said BURS conducted tax audits on corporate taxpayers to recover tax from those who had underpaid and occasionally conducted operations to identify those who were not complying with revenue laws.

He underlined an operation on second-hand motor vehicles carried out in 2019, which identified some traders who were not compliant as one other example to latter. "BURS has amended the transfer pricing provisions in the Income Tax Act to guide taxpayers on transactions covered by transfer pricing legislation, documentation requirements, approved transfer pricing methods, and acceptable standards," he said.

Mr Soopu reiterated that BURS introduced the Lekgetho live system to simplify the process of tax management.

He said this reduced taxpayer burden which promoted compliance and also installed Customs Management System, to simplify trade facilitation processes. Early May, government opened Kazungula Bridge, at which BURS will be providing integrated service of one-stop border aimed at improving efficiency and easing revenue collection.

<i>Source : BOPA</i>

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