(Business in Cameroon) - Initially scheduled for June 30, 2020, the deadline given to individuals and legal entities to start presenting their "unique identification number" before getting some services is extended by three months. In other words, late registrants have until September 30 to register with tax authorities, according to an official statement from the Ministry of Finance.
In the 2020 Finance Law, Cameroonian authorities introduced a new provision to force taxpayers to register in the tax register, and therefore to meet their tax obligations. The provision requires everyone to present a unique identification number assigned by tax authorities, before opening an account with credit and microfinance institutions, subscribing to any type of insurance contract, getting connected to water or electricity network, land registration and approval to a regulated profession (notary, lawyer, bailiff...).
According to the public authorities, this measure is part of the policy of broadening the tax base implemented over the last few years, to increase internal revenue, while reducing the proportion of taxpayers still evading the tax authorities. Officially, sources within the Ministry of Finance estimate that around 30% of taxpayers are still evading the tax administration.
To reverse this trend, in addition to subjecting access to certain services to the presentation of a unique identification number, the General Tax Code now stipulates that "carrying out the procedures referred to in Article L1 bis (3) (opening a bank account, land registration, connection to the electricity grid, etc.) for persons who do not have a unique identification number is punishable by a fine of five million (5 000 000) CFA francs per operation."
Sensitization by banks
Henceforth, for example, a bank or microfinance institution that opens an account for an organization or individual not registered in the tax register will be fined CFAF 5 million. To avoid any inconvenience related to the new tax registration requirement, the public water utility company, Camwater, has, for instance, decided to pass on this fine to the agents who would cause this misleading action.
Indeed, in a memorandum signed on January 17, 2020, the managing director of this state-owned company, Gervais Bolenga, informed his staff that any individual who would connect a customer to the water network without the latter presenting a unique identification number would be fined CFAF 5 million per individual connection.
Bankers, on the other hand, have chosen to raise clients’ awareness about the provision. The reason is not to reduce the country’s banking rate which is barely 20%. For several weeks now, customers of these credit institutions have been receiving numerous SMS messages reminding them of the need to obtain their unique identification numbers from the tax authorities. Tax authorities, by the way, have made obtention of this number easier with their electronic platform.
In his note postponing the initial three-month deadline, the Minister of Finance justifies his decision by the need to "relieve the pressure on the IT platform of the General Tax Directorate," so that this administration can serenely continue to offer other online services.
Brice R. Mbodiam