LRA to introduce e-tax system
THE Lesotho Revenue Authority (LRA) is set to introduce an electronic tax-filing system in the next financial year to make the process easier for taxpayers.
This was revealed by LRA Deputy Commissioner of Taxpayer Services Tšepo Raletooane in an interview with the Lesotho Times this week ahead of the tax-return filing deadline today.
Mr Raletooane said the tax authority would next month begin the processes leading to the setting up of an online tax filing system which would be operated concurrently with the manual system. He said the drive was in line with the LRA’s strategy to automate its processes and nip all forms of evasion in the bud.
“When we introduced the automation process in our strategic plan, it was to be conducted in two phases. The first phase enabled us to achieve a system that was manually-operated. For the second phase, the project will focus on how best to incorporate an e-commerce facility which would enable electronic methods of payment of tax services,” said Mr Raletooane.
“The implementation of the second phase, which will focus on introducing an electronic system will commence next month. We, however, envision that the system will be accessible by the next financial year.”
The LRA’s tax dragnet includes sole proprietors, service providers, manufacturing industries, security firms, the construction, transport and property sectors, small and medium enterprises as well as employed professionals such as accountants, doctors, consultants and lawyers among others.
He said the online system was meant to modernise the operations of the revenue authority and make the system more efficient.
“The introduction of an electronic filing system aims to provide convenient solutions to taxpayers who dread filing their taxes manually. We still intend to retain the manual system for those who cannot access the documents online or who prefer the manual system.”
Mr Raletooane said the LRA was also working towards collecting tax from informal traders.
“We are planning to introduce a tax regime for small, micro and medium enterprises, or the informal sector, that will enable them to comply much easily. We are hoping that the exercise will increase our tax net.”
The new system, he said, would also assist the agency to overcome the challenge of non-compliance by taxpayers through encouraging re-registration.
“We have been calling for people to re-register their businesses, and as a result, those who have not were unable to file their returns this year. We, therefore, encourage people to re-register so they are able to file,” said Mr Raletooane.
“In addition to the new system increasing our tax net, it will further assist registered taxpayers to improve their record-keeping processes so they can efficiently comply with paying tax.”
With regard to this year’s filing deadline, Mr Raletooane said taxpayers improved on their timing compared to previous years when they waited until the last day to queue at the LRA premises.
He, however, noted that this year’s turn-out was comparatively lower compared to last year.
“The newly-introduced changes that have included re-registration and new forms have caused many people to delay filing. Some people only realised when they arrived at LRA that they were not able to process their filing after failing to re-register. Others also came for other services such as changing details on their forms. All these changes caused some delays.”
Mr Raletooane said they would continue with their educational campaigns to increase the general public’s knowledge of LRA processes.
“In the previous financial year, the LRA availed new tax filing forms on its website which were specific to the types of taxpayers. Unlike the old forms, the content of individual taxpayer forms is different from the ones to be filled by businesses to avoid mix ups,” he said.
“Despite this development, however, we still experience an influx of taxpayers who physically present themselves at our offices to access these forms. We also provide guidelines on our website on how the forms should be filled out, but many people still come to fill them out at the LRA offices.
“We still need to embark on more educational campaigns to enlighten people on such convenient changes that could reduce unnecessary queuing.”