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Listening Partner: Why URA Extended Deadline For Filing January Tax Returns

Ian Rumanyika, the Ag. Assistant Commissioner Public and Corporate Affairs at URA

Ian Rumanyika, the Ag. Assistant Commissioner Public and Corporate Affairs at URA

Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) extended the deadline for filing and payment of January 2021 tax returns from 15th of February, 2021 to 17th of February 2021.

Business Focus interviewed Ian Rumanyika, the Ag. Assistant Commissioner Public and Corporate Affairs at URA, why the taxman extended filing of tax returns for January 2021

Below are the excerpts;

Q: Why did URA  extend filing of returns for January 2021?

A: URA is a listening partner. Businesses have faced difficulties during this period. We have been closely listening to the voices of our Taxpayers and we promised to be flexible within the law as much as possible.

The network has also not been good and when our clients requested for an extension to enable them meet their Tax obligations, the Commissioner General listened and has granted it. Taxpayers are happy with this move. 

Q: What is the rate of Filing among taxpayers? 

A: The rate has improved over time. We hope to make the process much easier with ETax 2. Our Target is 100% filing ratio.

Q: In January you extended the December Returns and so you have done the same to January Returns. Where is the problem?

A: There is no problem brother.

URA is positioning itself as business enabler. We want to grow with you as a partner. URA understands that all businesses are facing a difficult time during this COVID19 period.

We therefore find it humane to extend the due dates where necessary for purposes of enabling all of us meet our Tax obligations. There isn’t meaning in trying to fine a Taxpayer when they had capacity to file even more if they had a smooth operating environment. The would be penalties and interests can be reinvested in the businesses for expansion.

When businesses grow and expand, we get more revenue as simple as that.

URA

Q: What is the conclusive overview of tax compliance among Ugandans?

A: Tax compliance behaviour across board is willing; over 95% of the registered taxpayers are willing to pay. For the willing  Taxpayers,  we focus at making it easy as much as possible for them in order to facilitate their compliance. Providing services everywhere all the time and at a lowest cost possible. Paying Tax should be easy.

For taxpayers who are unwilling, we focus on aggressive tax education and change of mindset campaigns to show them reasons for voluntary compliance and increase Tax morale. URA also bites where necessary, we enforce and prosecute those that have refused to comply.

The alternative dispute resolution has also been very instrumental for this category; we settle outside court  and agree to have a fresh start with those Taxpayers that are willing to have a mutual agreement. This tax compliance initiative had collected over Shs100bn in the last few months. 

However the Tax register is still small and Tax to GDP is low compared to the desired level of 18%-20%. 

URA has embarked on a journey of expanding the Tax base through data analytics, using data and artificial intelligence to bring more Taxpayers on the register. Information sharing is high on agenda and this we have started analysing and filling the gaps.

Through Taxpayer expansion Programmes like TREP (Tax Payer Registration Expansion Program), we have added over 600,000 new Taxpayers on board.

URA is working with Local Government, City authorities like KCCA, URSB under the one stop shops initiative to bring more businesses into the tax bracket so that we can be able to fund our national budget 100%. 

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Taddewo William Senyonyi
https://www.facebook.com/senyonyi.taddewo
William is a seasoned business and finance journalist. He is also an agripreneur and a coffee enthusiast.

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