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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.1.13 Informing taxpayers of high risk areas

Letters advising taxpayers that the authority is aware of a specific risk and inviting a specific response should be sent to high risk taxpayers. Such letters have dual utility - they prompt compliant behaviour from the potentially non-compliant (deterrence) and they support the perception among the compliant that their compliance is not in vain, that is, wrongdoers are being pursued (reinforcement). The tax administration should also publish the entire programme of compliance activities on the on the website. This programme will serve to raise the awareness of taxation compliance.

III.1.14 Educating taxpayers to seek invoices from suppliers

To help improve the quality of the audit trail, the tax administration should conduct educational campaigns to encourage taxpayers to seek invoices/receipts from businesses/suppliers. The main argument being used to sell the idea to taxpayers is consumer protection - consumers will be informed that they have very little recourse if they pay cash for the goods and services when the goods and services turn out to be unsatisfactory. They should be encouraged to ask for invoices and receipts which are important evidence for the purchase and after-sale service. «Get it in Writing!» campaign is a good example of such an initiative. «Get it in Writing!» is a campaign to warn consumers of the risks involved in dealing with contractors who offer `under-the-table' cash deals and to explain why it is important to insist on a written contract and get receipts.

III.1.15 Publicising prosecution cases and penalties

The component of transparency that constitutes the strongest incentive for tax compliance is clearly the publicity given to prosecution and conviction of individual tax offenders87(*). Not only can publicity be used to heighten the perception that the likelihood of detection is high and hence encourage voluntary compliance, it also helps to improve the credibility of the tax administration by showing taxpayers that it can and will actively pursue those who choose to evade/avoid the law. Even company boards will realise that publicity, namely `naming and shaming' attacks on alleged tax avoiders will damage their reputations in the eyes of important stakeholders, which can lead to sharp short-term share price falls and the unwelcome attention of tax authority.

* 87 United States practices in Estimating and Publicising Tax Evasion, African Economic Policy Discussion Paper No 15, May 1995, P.9.

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