The role of records management in tax administration in Botswana: the case of BURS
PublisherUniversity of Botswana
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This study investigated the role of records management practices in tax administration in Botswana with reference to the Botswana Unified Revenue Service (BURS). The objectives of the study were to: establish the relationship between tax administration and records management; assess whether the Botswana Unified Revenue Service has set standards for records keeping practices for all tax payers; find out the difficulties faced by the BURS‟ Audit Unit in auditing tax payers who do not keep records properly; and to establish how far BURS adheres to ISO 15489 in its records management practices. The theoretical framework for the study was informed by the Planned Behaviour Theory (PBT). In addition, the BURS records management practices were benchmarked against the ISO 15489 using the records lifecycle framework. The study used a survey study design as a guide. Both qualitative and quantitative data collection approaches were used. Data collection tools of interviews, observations, documents reviews and questionnaires were employed. Quantitative data was analysed using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) while qualitative data was processed using thematic analysis. The most significant finding of the study is that records play a very important role in tax administration. Some respondents from the audit unit indicated that there cannot be any tax audit or investigation in the absence of records. Another finding was that the records management function at BURS is understaffed both at the Headquarters and outstations and this hampers its effectiveness in supporting tax administration activities. It was further found out that BURS has records management tools such as policies, retention and disposal schedules, records procedures manual and classification system. The study found out that the RMDU at BURS faces challenges which need to be addressed. Some of the notable challenges are: disposal of records inherited from the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning, shortage of human resource to deal with the volume of records created and shortage of storage facilities. Even though not mentioned by respondents as a challenge, the fact that the IT Unit saves on Compact Discs (CDs) all e-mails and attachments irrespective of whether they are official or personal will in the long run be problematic as it will require personnel to sieve what is useful for the organisation from what is not useful. This study therefore, recommends that BURS should: increase the number of staff qualified in records management; carry out an evaluation of records that it inherited from the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning before disposal; consider increasing its storage facilities in order to avoid keeping its records with commercial storage facilities; benchmarking with other revenue authorities; and lastly, offer training in records management to all its employees as a matter of urgency as it is important that they know the value of this resource that they use daily. It is also recommended that taxpayer education be intensified in-order to reduce problems faced by the Audit Unit in auditing taxpayers. Hopefully, this study will help BURS in strengthening some of its processes in order to make tax administration in Botswana a success.
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