TRA now told to focus on property tax collection

18Nov 2018
The Guardian Reporter
Guardian On Sunday
TRA now told to focus on property tax collection

THE government has given the Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) six months during which it should indentify all houses liable to pay tax and state clearly how much it expects to collect as property tax.

Finance and Planning Deputy Minister Dr Ashantu Kijaji.

Finance and Planning Deputy Minister Dr Ashantu Kijaji issued the directive yesterday at the 11th graduation ceremony of the Institute of Tax Administration (ITA) held in Dar es Salaam.

The minister said once the exercise was over, it would enable the government to earn more revenue in property tax.

Dr Kijaji admitted that few sources of revenue had forced the government to charge high tax rates.

“If TRA indentifies all the houses in the country, it can easily collect property tax from the owners, thereby increasing government revenue,” she said.

Kijaji said TRA had no reliable data on the number of houses liable for property tax in specific areas of the country and therefore it cannot state clearly how it expects to collect in a specific period of time.

The minister directed the tax body to make a thorough compilation of the number of houses in the country with a view to knowing the amount due to the government in property tax.

Meanwhile, she has called on the ITA management to invest in research in customs and tax fields.

ITA must now conduct applied research that can give solutions and increase revenue while preventing tax evasion, the minister said.

During the graduation ceremony, Dr Kijaji conferred certificates, diplomas and degrees to 360 graduates and rewarded fourteen best performing students while other special awards were given to best researchers who conducted research in the financial year 2017/18.

For his part, ITA Governing Council Chairman  Dr Samweli Werema said already ITA had taken some initiatives aimed at making it a centre of excellence.

He said the East African Community (EAC) secretariat had identified the institute as a leading training institution in customs and tax administration fields and consequently earmarked it for recognition as a centre of excellence in customs and tax studies in the region.

Werema said the institute was set to improve its curriculum, build the capacity of lecturers and conducting more research.

ITA Rector Prof Isaya Jairo said lack of adequate budget was one of the big challenges the institute faced, calling on the government to increase its budget.

He said ITA planned to enrol up to 1000 students annually while it had hostels that could accommodate only 134 students.

 “We plan to increase the enrolment of students to 1000 annually to address the shortage of experts in tax administration,” Jairo said.

Currently the institute enrols between 600 and 800 students annually, which is still low.

 “Lack of tax experts is a big challenge,” he said.

According to him, the institute enjoys national and international recognition, noting that it enrols students from countries such as Botswana, Uganda, Malawi, South Africa and Benin in West Africa.

 According to the don, ITA and the Institute for Finance Management (IFM) were the only academic bodies entitled to offer tax courses in the country.