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LRA tightens screws on tax evaders



MASERU – FROM next year tax evaders will have nowhere to hide. That’s because the Lesotho Revenue Authority (LRA) is hard at work automating its systems not only to improve customer experience but to also be able to collect transaction data from the banks and retail sector in real-time. The changes will be implemented next year. “We are building automatic compliance by harnessing strategic partnerships and developing business acumen,” said Phehello Mphana, the LRA’s public relations manager. “Through these partnerships, LRA will be issuing statements to clients showing them how much they are expected to remit as a result of economic activities or transactions one has had as recorded in real-time”. Mphana said that LRA will intensify its education and stakeholder engagement efforts to ensure that every taxpayer is aware of the changes. “Taxpayers must be able to comply automatically, we do not want to have people being unable to comply due to lack of information,” Mphana said. The world, he said, is going digital and we all saw how the covid-19 pandemic forced businesses to move their services online. We are also following suit to avoid being left behind. “The ultimate goal is to have clients being able to access services wherever they are without having to come to our offices. We acknowledge that there will be challenges encountered by some clients while interacting with our systems. In those cases, clients are welcome to either come to our service centres or call our toll-free number 800 22 009 and seek assistance” Mphana said. Mphana said by the end of March clients will also be filing through their online facilities and not through the email that was issued during the peak of Covid-19. Turnaround time for responding to queries and receiving registration services he said has also improved significantly. “Registration services for tax clearance are now done within 24 hours, walk-ins are also assisted within 24 hours,” Mphana said. Mathabo Motaung from the LRA service centre in Leribe added that, though they say to register for tax takes 24 hours, most times clients are assisted within two hours. “Clients are also able to apply for a VAT 11 online using the same system and credentials they use for tax clearance purposes,” Motaung said. Motaung urged clients to approach advice centres or to call or email when they come across challenges so that clarity can be provided. According to Letsatsi Sepiriti, Manager Taxpayer Education, the time to process tax refunds, especially employee tax refunds, has been reduced significantly. Letsatsi said this is because they understand the inconvenience they have been creating for clients by taking months to refund their money. “Clients would have used their money for other activities with the hope that they would soon receive their refunds only to have their money tied up for months. We want these refunds to be processed in real-time without clients having to wait for the end of the financial year to file” Sepiriti said.

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