KAMPALA – Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) has advised the government to make changes in some of its tax policies to eliminate those that are underperforming.
The revelation made by the URA Commissioner General Doris Akol is based on failure by the taxman to collect the revenue targets from Over-the-top (OTT).
Akol and a delegation of the technical officers from the tax body had appeared before the Finance Committee of Parliament on January 14, 2020, to present the body’s budget framework paper for the coming financial year 2020/21.
She said that revenue collection from OTT has suffered huge evasions and thus a need for amendment of the Exercise Duty Act and have a policy shift to directly charge OTT on data than from mobile money.
The Commissioner-General said, “This could counteract the effects of OTT evasion and will call for consideration to withdraw OTT policy given its rate of evasion.”
It should be recalled that Parliament passed into law the Excise Tax Bill 2018 that saw the introduction of the daily Shs200 on Over The Top Services (OTT) for social media users who use Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp.
Experts criticized Government move saying it is intended to curb on freedoms of speech and expression guaranteed in the constitution after reports that President Yoweri Museveni ordered for the tax on the pretext that on the amount of time Ugandans spend gossiping on social media, on top of enhancing the URA revenue pool.
Attempts by Akol to expound on the matter were futile after Finance Committee Chairperson Henry Musasizi who also doubles as Rubanda East MP cut the Commissioner-General short saying it isn’t within her mandate to explain policy matters.
Musasizi instead tasked the officials of URA to return alongside the Ministry of Finance officials including the minister and permanent secretary to the treasury to explain the policy shift regarding OTT.
Meanwhile, Akol told MPs on the Finance Committee that the government should also consider abolishing of some non-tax charges on some Government services like verifying land titles, renewing passports, driving permits among others. She says that this would address the tax morale issue in Uganda.