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A Critical Analysis of Effectiveness of Tax Offences Control Mechanisms Under Rwandan Law

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par Charles KABERA
Kigali Independent University - LLB 2008

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III.1.12 Providing information, tools to help taxpayers

The provision of information, tools and guidance to help taxpayers comply is very important. If taxpayers do not understand what their obligations are, any intervention to enforce compliance will be perceived as unfair. Thus, a first step in considering how to address a specific non-compliant behaviour should be to review whether or not the appropriate steps have been taken to make obligations clear -- meaning transparent, easy to understand, simple and non-confusing guidance. Such a process should include consideration of the following issues:

· Are the authority's administrative requirements clear?

· Are there clear information products available, at relevant levels of detail, in the language of the taxpayer? Are these products accessible in the taxpayers' channels of choice (e.g. web-based, paper-based, CD-Rom)?

· Has there been adequate communication and marketing of the information available? Has this included publication in relevant industry or community vehicles?

· Are effective support services available to meet taxpayers' needs? (e.g. telephone enquiry services, web services, educational field visits, etc.)

· Have opportunities been taken to remind those potentially at risk of what their obligations are?

Other measures include expanding a range of electronic services provided (such as RRA website, online registration, e-filing and portals). It is believed that there will be an increase in the number of taxpayers and tax advisers taking advantage of the ease and convenience these services provided.

The administrative burden of tax compliance has been shown to fall more heavily on small businesses than on large businesses. From this context, a specific program should be implemented to help those new to business to get established. A pilot program should be conducted where those new to business will be given a personal phone-call from a tax officer to check if the business operator had any questions about his tax obligations. The objective of this study will be to establish whether those who were contacted will be more compliant (i.e. lodge on time and have smaller debts) than those who have not been called.

There is also importance of tax consciousness and the tax administration is introducing a strategy of increasing public awareness amongst the younger generation. This is being done through series of debates and essay-writing competitions at school level. It is hoped that this effort will generate tax consciousness among the younger generation who will then become law-abiding citizens.

Visits to business premises are also helpful because they offer a personalised and direct approach to assistance, but these visits need to be carefully pitched because they could be viewed as an enforcement approach, leading to more angst and fear! It is more common to establish shop fronts or call centres where taxpayers can access to seek assistance or information to help them comply, or to conduct seminars or workshops for groups of taxpayers

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