Local companies owing tax have responded positively to the Botswana Unified Revenue Service (BURS)’s tax amnesty scheme that been running for several months now.
The scheme, which seeks to grant delinquent taxpayers an opportunity to clear the total principal tax owed in exchange for write-off of interest and penalties charged during tax periods prior to 1st July 2021 encountered troubles in the initial months as only a few took advantage of it causing the ministry of Finance to extend the deadline.
But now BURS Commissioner General Jeanette Makgolo says the tax collecting agency has seen a positive response from the delinquents as total principal tax paid has increased from P64 million to P682 million. On the other hand, the interest and penalties waived increased from P116 to P408 million as at the end of May 2022.
Makgolo says tax amnesty applications approved increased by 77 percent from 4,109 to 7,927, while 27 percent decrease in the outstanding principal tax and 9.5 percent decrease in the outstanding interests and penalties prior to the commencement of the scheme. The achievements came after BURS announced the extension of the tax Amnesty by the Minister of Finance in December 2021.
Having motivated the extension of the Amnesty period from December 2021 to 30th June 2022, BURS continued to engage with individual taxpayers through various communication channels, and also through their representative bodies such as Business Botswana and Botswana Institute of Accountants to encourage their members to apply for the Tax Amnesty.
Makgolo further said that as at 31st May 2022, a total of 13,193 taxpayers, being 58 percent of the taxpayers in arrears, had applied for tax amnesty out of which 7,927 (being 35 percent) out of 22,839 taxpayers in arrears were approved.
“The Minister of Finance and Economic Development, in recognition of the difficulties associated with the Covid-19 pandemic, extended the Tax Amnesty scheme period from 31st December 2021 to 30th June, 2022 to allow for more tax payers to benefit from the dispensation. This was done as per statutory instrument published on the 29th December 2021,” said Makgolo.
The Scheme targeted 22,839 taxpayers with Income Tax and VAT arrears amounting to approximately P6.8 billion. The arrears, Serame said, comprised of principal tax of P2.5 billion, interest of P3.5 billion and penalties of P800 million.
To take advantage of the scheme, taxpayers are required to confirm their tax liability with the nearest tax office or use the BURS ICT platforms.
Once a conformation of liabilities has been made, taxpayers can then make payment for the principal tax and inform the Commissioner General of full payment of the principal amount by completing a form that is available on the BURS website.