â€‹Smuggled goods worth Rwf1.3 billion intercepted
The Revenue Protection Department (RPD) recovered Rwf1.3 billion taxes from September 2015 to May 2016 that otherwise would have been evaded through smuggling and fraud.
RPD is a Rwanda National Police unit that support Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA) in fight against smuggling and fraud to protect public revenues.
According to statistics from RPD, over Rwf191 million was recovered in November and Rwf101 million recovered in December, last year.
The recovered public money include taxes that would otherwise be evaded and fines levied on evaders.
In an interview, the Commanding Officer of RPD, Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP) Sam Bugingo said; â€œOur aim is not to recover as much money as possible… it’s to ensure that everyone understands the importance of paying taxes and commits to that. Traders need to know that itâ€™s the taxes that run the country’s development activities which benefit them as well.â€
He attributed the successful operations against fraud and smuggling to strong public partnership, who provide information on such tax defaulters.
â€œPart of our responsibilities is to inspect products coming in the country through all channels to ensure the owners pay taxes, but also deal with merchandises that are legal in Rwanda.â€
â€œWe understand smugglers use various tricks but we always try to be ahead of them and taking varied measures to detect and intercept them.â€
â€œSome of the traders undervalue the commodities, others use forged receipts and alter packaging.â€
â€œMajority of the intercepted commodities include food stuff, liquors and clothes. The law is clear and this kind of malpractice will not be tolerated.â€
Article 369 of the Penal Code stipulates that a taxpayer found guilty of tax evasion shall be liable to a term of imprisonment of between three to six months and a fine equal to the evaded tax.
Under the same article, if the taxpayer is guilty of deliberate tax evasion, such as false deliberate accounting entries, forgery and falsification of records or any other act punishable by law, he or she shall be liable to a term of imprisonment of six months to two years and a fine equal to the evaded tax.
â€œA big number of cases related to tax evasion are handed to prosecution each month. This has helped to send a strong warning and to deter anyone with intentions to engage in this illegal activity,â€ CSP Bugingo explained.
â€œWe know that some business people are always looking for loopholes to smuggle goods â€“ and that is why we conduct random operations, mount roadblocks and conduct targeted operations based on information from whistleblowers or the public through community policing.â€
â€œThrough such operations, we have found shops and supermarkets selling smuggled goods without tax stamps. In order to recover the taxes, we seize these products and inform RRA, which imposes fines on the wrongdoers.â€
CSP Bugingo went on to say that RPD has officers deployed across the country and at all border posts.
â€œWe collaborate with all stakeholders to educate and sensitize the population on tax payment, investigate taxation offences and facilitate commercial activities,â€ he added.
RPD and RRA have put in place strategies to improve tax adherence among which include; establishing a platform for tax good governance, which discusses reforms in revenue collection, as well as engage the business community on how they can cooperate with authorities to fight illegal business practices that are conducted with intent to evade tax