Mauritius is moving to e-filing in a big way, with a towering 92% of the total number of tax filings received in 2014 submitted electronically. The island economy’s tax collections body, the Mauritius Revenue Authority (MRA), registered 123,000 electronic submissions of individual income tax returns this year.

MRA credited the considerable logistics support of the Information System Department (ISD) and the extensive communication campaign deployed by the Taxpayer Education and Communication Department (TECD) forreaching the landmark number of 123,000 electronic submissions.

Under e-filing for this year, launched on February 25, 2014 by the Chairperson of the MRA Board, Vasdev Hassamal, and MRA Director General Sudhamo Lal, as many as 125,000 electronic returns were expected.

The authority nevertheless expressed itself satisfied with the exercise even it did not reach its target, since the increase over 2013 numbers is considerable.

To illustrate, the number of e-filers has constantly improved from 1,500 in 2007 to 117,000 in 2013, representing more than 90% of the total returns received at the MRA.

Latecomers have to pay a fine of 5% on the amount to be paid as well as 1% interest monthly on the same. In the second month, the percentage of interest rises to 2% and so on for each month of delay.

Consequently, those who do not submit their tax declaration have to face prohibitive penalties starting from Rs 2,000 per month, until a maximum of Rs 20,000 is paid.

The 2014 exercise which began on February 25, 2014 has been divided into two terms: the first term, for April 1, 2014, targeted those who made the payment by cash or check and opted for the manual or electronic submission; the second one, for April 15, 2014, was reserved only for those who made both transactions through the electronic route.

Taxpayers have access to their electronic forms by using their smart phones or any other electronic mobile devices such as tablets and phablets. Those who get themselves registered with the MRA E-services can get a pre-filled return and get their refund directly credited to their bank account, among other benefits.

Besides, the treasury office has already started making refunds to those who paid more taxes than they owed.

The MRA has until a maximum period of three months from the date of the tax form’s submission to pay the taxpayer. After this deadline, it has to settle interest owed according to the current banking rates.

During the last weekend of March, the MRA operated 16 Free Income Tax Assistance (FITA) Centres due to internet connectivity issues coming in the way of e-filing. The exercise also sought to avoid inconvenience caused to taxpayers who would otherwise need to come to MRA’s Head Office to obtain assistance to file their returns.

Around 100 MRA officers were mobilised for this event and offered e-filing services to more than 8,000 taxpayers. Electronic equipments were installed in all 16 centres in Mauritius to provide facilities to taxpayers to send their returns electronically and also pay on the spot at the Cash offices were set up in the centres. A similar FITA centre was operational in Rodrigues at the MRA outpost, Clyderlex Building, Port-Mathurin.

Moreover, every individual consumer over 18 years of age can participate in the VAT Lucky Draw Scheme whereby taxpayers who have received a VAT Invoice can send the details of the invoice through SMS or website and win up to Rs 50,000.

Image (Greenback Tax Services): The island economy’s tax collections body, the Mauritius Revenue Authority (MRA), registered 123,000 electronic submissions of individual income tax returns this year.

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