LRA to tax taxis

LRA to tax taxis

MASERU – THE Lesotho Revenue Authority (LRA) has introduced a flat tax for taxi operators.
Commissioner General Thabo Khasipe said this is meant to help the operators comply with their tax obligations.

Khasipe said the standard tax will mean that operators will not need accountants to prepare their financials for tax purposes.
A 4+1 sedan taxi will pay M720 while a bus will pay M3 000 per year. He said taxi operators were consulted before the rates were set.
But this has been disputed by the Maseru Region Transport Operators (MRTO) which said it only received notification from the LRA.

“All we know is that we were given a letter notifying us of the rates that we are to pay from now on,” said MRTO spokesman Makama Monese.
He said had the LRA consulted them “it would have realised that this new system is also burdensome and unfair”.
“There are many unlicensed 4+1’s and several taxis in Maseru which are not going to be liable for tax and this is unfair for those who are officially registered,” Monese said.

“They have no choice but to pay.” Monese said the tax is coming at a time when the industry is already on its knees due to low profit margins.
“Most taxis were no longer paying tax because they are not making enough money.”

“What happens is that we do basic bookkeeping and take the books with us when we renew our discs and then they see for themselves that were are not making money.” “We do not pay tax.”

Monese said he believed the flat rate is the LRA’s strategy to make operators pay tax even when they are not making profit.
“A taxi that goes to Semonkong can only have a full trip once a week, four times a month while those that go as far as Qacha can only manage to be full when they go,” Monese said.

“There is no money and we cannot even afford to maintain these cars let alone buy new ones.”
But Limema Phohlo, the spokesman for Bochabela Region Transport Operators (BRTO), said the LRA did consult them about the tax.
He however said the association raised concerns over the prevalence of unlicenced taxis.

“How are they going to identify cars that are legally registered because, as it is, the majority of cars in this industry are not registered,” Phohlo said.
“What is going to be done to those trading illegally?”
He however said the flat tax is going to help operators comply.

“Our biggest challenge is bookkeeping. Most of us in this industry did not go to school and when we seek assistance we get robbed.”
“It is not that we do not want to pay tax, bookkeeping is our problem hence why we see this flat rate tax initiative as a good one although we were not consulted about it in the first place.”

Phohlo said if the LRA does not come up with ways to deal with unlicensed taxis its initiative will be in vain.
“We are aware that most of these illegal cars are owned by police officers, LRA staff, teachers and other public servants who have salaries.”
“If these challenges persist and business remains as poor as it is at the moment it will be a challenge for most of us to meet the set tax amounts.”

Lemohang Rakotsoane

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