The Botswana Unified Revenue Service (BURS) will next month implement the electronic tax filing and payment system that will enhance its responsiveness and effectiveness.This is meant to provide a new service delivery channel for filing, which improves accessibility in terms of 24-houra-day, 7 days-a-week availability and geographicr each in a secure and accountable way. Introducing the system at a stakeholder workshop last week, BURS Commissioner of Internal Revenue, Segolo Lekau said BURS has grappled with the challenges of in efficiency in the administration of taxes, therefore, was imperative to undertake reforms to improve voluntary compliance and minimise costs of compliance to taxpayers.
“Taxpayers spend considerable amounts of time within BURS to obtain different services including registration, filing and payment of taxes. The manual and partial electronic systems within BURS are inefficient to both the taxpayers and BURS,”he said.As a result of the above, the e-service is expected amongst other things, to simplify compliance and elicit taxpayers to use electronic services, enhance service delivery to the taxpayer and business, eliminate manual data entry and physical file operation process and provide a platform fort ransparency, consistency and integrity.However, Lekau said that once the e government legislation is passed in Parliament,it will end the current system where one has to bring their dues to BURS and the assessments will also be done online.“We are crossing our fingers that it be passed to further improve on the delivery of services,” he said.
He urged commercial banks to fully participate in this endeavor,noting that Barclays Bank is currently a partner whilst other banks have indicated that they are yet to contact their respective headquarters.The system gives users the opportunity to pay online using their credit/debit cards. Lekau also noted that customers will also be given an opportunity to file and pay later but they should not accumulatethe tax arrears. “Tax arrears are a bigissue and it has taken a lot of companiesout of business as it grows at an alarmingrate and they later fail to pay. This is publicmoney,” he cautioned.There is often an outcry of poor/slowinternet performance in the country asthe governments’ information and communicationstechnology systems are oftendown.
In relation to this, the participants at the workshop wondered how BURS was going to manage the system to ensure that it is not down when taxpayers are processing their returns.BURS Head of Information Technology, Lebesani Mosweu said they have spent time and resources in optimizing the system so that it delivers optimum quality of service. Although this will not solve the problem completely, Mosweu emphasized that it will improve it and avoid inconveniences to taxpayers.Meanwhile, when launching the system,BURS indicated that its piloting will be carried on a selected 500 people.