Do you own a residential property in Rwanda? If you do, Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA) is seeking your attention.
RRA is stepping up efforts to ensure compliance in property tax registration and declaration.
Tax registration and declaration are resultant to a 2018 law determining the sources of revenue and property of decentralised entities.
As per the law, Rwandans who own more than one residential houses are subject to property tax for each extra housing unit as part of new efforts to broaden sources for district revenues.
The law only exempts homeowners with one house that they live in.
To enforce the law, RRA is currently rolling out a property registration exercise in readiness for declarations by the end of the year.
Despite opening the registration process months back, the agency notes that turn out in response to the registration has somewhat fallen short of expectations.
Ernest Karasira, RRA Deputy Commissioner for regional and decentralised taxes told The New Times that in response, they have put in place multiple mechanisms to improve compliance.
On Thursday, the agency introduced an online property registration portal to improve the convenience of property owners.
Karasira said that the portal will among others ensure compliance by Rwandans in the Diaspora or based out of the country.
Beyond the portal, the agency has also rolled out deployed temporary staff in every cell office in Kigali to ease the process and ensure compliance.
RRA offices across the country have also set up specific registration desks and are also working closely with local authorities to step up awareness.
He said that the temporary staff in cell offices could also be deployed to other parts of the country to fast track the process.
On registration, the property owners are issued with a Tax Identification Number which they will use on declaration and payment of taxes ahead of the December 31 deadline.
If taxes on a certain property are not declared and paid after December 31st, the owner(s) will be deemed as a tax evader and be subjected to legal consequences.
Like in other registration processes, Karasira said that it is possible that majority of homeowners are waiting for last days to the deadline to spring into action.
The authorities have however called on the public to ensure that their property is registered by the end of October.
Proceeds of the taxes will go to district coffers. Currently, districts heavily rely on central government funding that accounts for more than 90 per cent of their finances.
Homeowners who spoke to The New Times said that their reasons for having not registered their properties were not as a result of lack of information about the process but rather inconvenience to long queues at the registration desk.
They welcomed RRA’s move to introduce an online portal to ease the process making it more convenient for them.
Philbert Bigirumwami, a Kigali landlord said that the registration process was fairly easy and fast and did not require him to pay anything. he said that he learned about the registration requirement during Umuganda a few weeks back.
The new legal instrument was informed by resolutions from the 12th National Leadership Retreat in 2015, which proposed the review of land tax law to promote efficient land use and help increase district revenues to enable them to provide basic infrastructure and other services to citizens.