Businesses and individuals owing some taxes in Botswana have until 31 December 2021 to take advantage of an amnesty scheme put up by the Botswana Unified Revenue Service (BURS) but they are not.
While the deadline day is fast approaching, the taxman has expressed concerns of a low uptake by the targeted businesses and individuals which owe as much as P6.8 billion.
First announced in February 2021 by the Finance Minister – Peggy Serame during the national budget speech, the objective of the Tax Amnesty Scheme was to ease the burden on taxpayers with outstanding tax liabilities. The scheme 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.
But now BURS Commissioner General Jeanette Makgolo says the response has not been what they anticipated.
“Unfortunately, we have not had an overwhelming response with less than 10 percent of those taxpayers with outstanding liabilities having coming forward to take advantage of the scheme. Schemes such as this one do not occur often,” says Makgolo.
Makgolo also shares that before the announcement of the amnesty scheme, BURS had recorded a total of P6.8 billion in income tax and VAT arrears. The P6.8 billion comprised of principal tax of P2.5 billion, interest of P3.5 billion and penalties of P796 million. So far, BURS pegs the principal amounts that it managed to collect at P64 million of the expected P2.5 billion.
To take advantage of the scheme, taxpayers are required to confirm their tax liability with the nearest tax office or use the ICT platforms; 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.
“I urge more customers to come forward, e-file and e-pay their outstanding returns and submit copies of tax returns and proof of payments as and when requested to do so to aid quicker processing of their applications,” says Makgolo.
“I wish to remind individual taxpayers that have not already filed their returns to do so at the earliest opportunity to avoid inconveniences at the last minute,” she said.