Today, some 17,000 small taxpayers fulfill their duties by using their mobile phone, according to the Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA). They are among 42,000 taxpayers who use RRA's ICT platform for tax declaration and payment, whether through the internet (E-Filing and E-Payment) or a mobile phone (M-Payment), which has greatly reduced the time they spend to clear their dues.
Thomas Habanabakize, a taxi-motorcyclist from Remera in Gasabo, told this newspaper that the RRA services make his work easy. "I don't need to go to their offices to declare and pay my taxes; my time is limited and I don't want to miss clients. Now I just dial *800# to know how much I have to pay, and I also use my phone for the payment," he said.
He also denounced people who evade taxes. "No one will develop our country for us, we have to cooperate and pay taxes; people who evade taxes should stop and use the technology RRA introduced which makes it easy," Habanabakize said.
Even Gerard Sina, the owner of Urwibutso Nyirangarama which is by no means a small company, said he uses his phone to follow up on his taxes, and observed that globally many countries have developed due to advanced technology.
"RRA has made my work successful; I always use my phone to do tax declaration and I access RRA online services easily on the internet," he said.
Andre Rwayitare, the owner of a dairy farm in Nyabihu, also lauded the revenue body's ICT applications.
"I do tax declarations and tax payment through online. Sometimes I use my mobile phone to get information instead of going to the RRA offices," he said.
Concentrating on business
Richard Tusabe, commissioner general of RRA, said the government uses technology as a form of simplifying ways of doing business and to help investors to concentrate on their businesses rather than spending a lot of time on tax formalities.
He added that 2013-2014 tax revenues increased by 16% to Frw 771.8 billion compared to the previous year, which he attributed to appropriate use of ICT among taxpayers.
"Most taxpayers know their duties and pay taxes on time and appropriately. We would have not achieved anything without the use of ICT, which we also count on to meet the target of Frw 906 billion in the 2014 -2015 financial year," Tusabe said. "Rwanda is in charge of promoting the use of ICT to fast-track the EAC single customs territory to boost business among the partner states."
Tusabe noted in the near future, RRA is going to make sure that entrepreneurs register for value-added tax (VAT), and that micro and small enterprises shift from informal to formal business and start paying taxes,
According to the ministry of youth and ICT, the ICT sector profile for 2013 indicates that mobile phone penetration stood at 63%, while it is 20% for internet (compared to 16% in Africa and 40% in the world). The target by 2017 is 80% and 50% respectively.