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Tax amnesty bears little fruit

URS COMMISSIONER GENERAL: Jeanette Makgolo
URS COMMISSIONER GENERAL: Jeanette Makgolo
Falling well short of P2. 5 billion target
From the P2.5 billion in principal tax owed by the taxpayers, BURS has managed to recover P64 million in the five months the scheme has been active.
A move by Botswana Unified Revenue Service (BURS) to ‘forgive’ those who owe the taxman has received an uninspiring response from the public.
Early this year, the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development announced new tax regulations, amongst them the tax amnesty.
Under the scheme, in return for paying off the principal amount they owe, taxpayers would have any outstanding penalties and interest automatically wiped out.
The offer was on the table for a period of six months, from July until December.
However, when updating the local media on the scheme’s progress last week, BURS Commissioner General, Jeanette Makgolo painted a gloomy picture, admitting the initiative has not borne the fruits they had envisaged.
The total amount owed to the taxman was P6.8 billion, which comprised interests of P3.5 billion and the principal amount of P2.5 billion.

“So, we said let us clear the P2.5 billion, then the P3.5 billion plus the penalties, which were around P800 million, will be pardoned,” she explained.

Makgolo said those who were in arrears were expected to take advantage of this window of opportunity, but to their surprise, only 10 percent have turned up so far.
“We still have 90 percent of taxpayers who are expected to apply for the scheme but have not come forth,” she said, describing the situation as ‘worrisome’.
With the advent of Covid-19, which has affected the income levels of many people, Makgolo said they had advised taxpayers to approach BURS to make a payment plan.
From the P2.5 billion in principal tax owed by the taxpayers, BURS has managed to recover P64 million in the five months the scheme has been active.
Highlighting the knock-on effect this will have, Makgolo said it means come January, more penalties and interest will accrue on those who have not taken advantage of the scheme.

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