On October 6, Police in Rubavu District intercepted a vehicle that was loaded with assorted smuggled goods.
The vehicle intercepted in Gisenyi sector of Nengo cell in Urubyiruko Village was mainly loaded with liquors, bales of clothes and powdered milk, among others.
The goods had been sneaked into the country through a porous border from the Democratic Republic of Congo.
According to the Commanding Officer of Revenue Protection Unit (RPU) Chief Supt. Alphonse Busingye, liquors, energy drinks, second-hand clothes, powdered milk and food spices are some of the majority goods seized in anti-fraud and smuggling operations.
RPU was formerly established in 2012 to deter, detect, and prevent smuggling, tax evasion and other breaches of revenue laws.
Other functions include fighting against corruption within the revenue services, minimize fraudulent acts, protect government revenue, improve efficiency of revenue collection and heighten public awareness of the effects of fraud.
“In the first quarter of the 2018/2019 fiscal year alone we recovered over Rwf354 million in taxes. This involve taxes that otherwise would have been evaded, and penalties,” Chief Supt. Businge said.
“In partnership with RRA, we conduct investigations through which we also unearth tax evaders who undervalue their imported goods and those who manipulate the EBM machine,” he added.
“It is the duty of RPU and every Rwandan to prevent fraud and smuggling and share information to bring tax evaders to book but also to recover the evaded taxes; evading taxes means derailing government programmes,” he noted.
“If you know or even suspect anyone to be involved in fraudulent schemes to evade taxes, call toll-free lines; 3004 and 3005 or inform the nearest police officer or police station, you will have played your part in the development of your country.”
He emphasized that “paying taxes in an obligation” contrary to which “you face heavy penalties as the law specifies.”
Under article 199 of the East African Community Management Act, which is also applied in Rwanda, any driver caught in such fraudulent means is slapped a fine of US$5, 000 while the vehicle and the goods are auctioned.
“Some traders falsify books of account and receipts; they use fraudulent means to claim VAT, other traders don’t issue receipts electronically generated by EBM, which is against the law. These are some of the things we deal with,” said Chief Supt. Businge.
“We operate on all border outlets including ports, mount abrupt snap-checks, conduct awareness together with RRA on tax compliance and this is how we are able to get information from the people on smugglers and traders who manipulate EBM; these strategies are bearing fruits.”
He appealed to the general public to demand EBM receipts while purchasing goods. “Every time you buy something you have paid your tax, and if you don’t your receipt the seller will embezzle your taxes.”
In November 2016, RPU unearthed a ring of three men running ghost companies through which they attempted to defraud RRA of about Rwf1 billion in VAT refund.
At least 25 holders of EBM were arrested in the same year for using fraudulent means to evade taxes and to defraud the tax body through VAT refunds.
At the time, RPU and RRA also identified about 700 other people, who were working with the holders of EBMs in fraud; they had evaded about Rwf6.7 billion.
Two other businessmen were also arrested in December 2015 for manipulating the EBM and evading taxes amounting to Rwf70 million.