TIWB Rwanda


Partnership between Rwanda and the Netherlands
By Norbert Vis, Netherlands Tax and Customs Administration, and Vincent Mucyurabuhoro, Rwanda Revenue Authority
21 April 2020


In 2017, the International Taxation Unit (ITU) in the Large Taxpayers Office of the Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA) was established. With the establishment of ITU, RRA’s mission was to mitigate the (potential) risk of revenue loss due to tax planning schemes used by multinational enterprises with the purpose of eroding taxable base. For this purpose, RRA wanted to equip ITU’s team members with skills to conduct transfer pricing audits. TIWB assistance was sought to complement efforts by the European Union’s delegation in Rwanda and the African Tax Administration Forum (ATAF) who were offering institutional, theoretical and legislative support in the area of international taxation.

 ‌TIWB partnership between the Netherlands and Rwanda

Based on the already existing bilateral working relationship with the Netherlands Tax and Customs Administration (NTCA), both parties concluded a support agreement under the TIWB initiative. The RRA’s mission and the goals to be achieved through the support matched well with the core features of TIWB. This resulted in RRA requesting a TIWB programme whereby practical assistance on real audit and audit-related issues could be provided. The RRA expected the NTCA’s experts to share knowledge and skills with the ITU’s team members, helping them to build effective international tax auditing skills with a focus on transfer pricing.

The Dutch experts provided support on related issues, such as risk assessment, guidance on how to obtain information from taxpayers and public sources, guidance on the applications of laws and treaties, and the importance of understanding a taxpayer’s functions. After several missions and assistance on multiple audits, both parties experienced positive energies from this TIWB partnership.

The RRA saw the capacity of ITU’s team members to effectively deal with transfer pricing issues increase significantly during the TIWB programme. An increase in the level of knowledge to be able to select, perform and finalise an audit also became visible over time. A key factor for this success is certainly the fact that the whole team remained intact during the period of the partnership and that all team members were actively involved in discussions, eager to learn from other team members. ITU team members’ feedback to the Dutch experts was that the TIWB programme has helped them to have a very good understanding of the arm’s length principle. Nonetheless, the team realises that they need to do more transfer pricing audits to gain more confidence in the work to be performed.

Looking back at all missions and the contacts with the ITU team members, it should be said that ITU’s team members have grown in their practical approach of transfer pricing cases and ability of gaining information. Over time, team members started very fruitful discussions on the principles of the arm’s length principle. In the view of the NTCA’s Experts, transfer pricing is a focus area within the field of international taxation for which the slogan “learning by doing” definitely fits; each case is different. RRA’s feedback emphasized the appreciation of the “learning by doing” approach and the hands-on assistance in transferring knowledge and skills. 


The Dutch Experts want to stimulate RRA (and other Host Administrations) to continue working on transfer pricing cases to be able to continue gaining practical experience, even though – under the current agreement – the technical assistance with NTCA has come to an end. 

 Partnership between Rwanda and the Netherlands

By doing so, the Dutch Experts have good faith that ITU will become a successful team in the (near) future, even though challenges remain in the short term. In particular, (i) the limited publicly available information (like other African countries) for benchmarking purposes as Rwanda tax and company laws do not oblige all companies to publically disclose accounting information and (ii) transfer pricing guidelines not being available (although these have been drafted, they are not yet published in the gazette), resulting in a situation that taxpayers are not obliged to keep and file transfer pricing documentation to the tax administration.


The TIWB initiative is strongly supported by the Dutch Government. The NTCA is a proud Partner Administration and highly values TIWB’s work. NTCA has been active in TIWB since 2013 in various roles, such as a Partner Administration for implementing programmes, a member of the Governing Board and the Technical Advisory Group. NTCA can and will encourage other developing countries to get involved in the TIWB initiative and request for the assistance of experienced transfer pricing specialists. NTCA believes in the effectiveness of the “learning by doing” approach and hands-on technical assistance. TIWB’s format can make a difference!


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