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URA Boss: Our Focus Now Is To Widen The Tax Base By Bringing More Taxpayers Onboard

URA Commissioner General, John R. Musinguzi

The Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) Commissioner General, John R. Musinguzi, has revealed that the tax body is doing everything possible not only to collect tax revenue, but also facilitate trade and businesses.

“We agree that whereas we collect taxes, we are also here to facilitate trade and business in Uganda. Compliant taxpayers are happy with the TTCs we issue them and they are doing business seamlessly . However, tax liabilities shouldn’t stop our business owners from conducting businesses yet we can enter an MOU to clear the tax arrears because we do not benefit from seeing businesses struggle,” said Musinguzi.

He made the remarks while appearing on NBS TV’s Front Line show on Thursday.

He added that the tax register has over 3.5m taxpayers and efforts are on to bring more taxpayers onboard.

“We have been able to increase revenue collection and our focus right now is to widen the tax base by bringing more taxpayers onboard. This way, everyone pays their fair share of tax,” he said, adding: “For us to be able to distribute the  tax burden, we must widen the tax base by encouraging transparency using systems like the EFRIS system. Some of the current tax measures are to level the ground for everyone. We are in a transition time moving from a non compliance culture to a compliance one  which is tasking but a change that must happen for the development of  Uganda.”

Explaining more on EFRIS, he said: “We know the principle of VAT, it is usually paid by the final consumer.  So the EFRIS system helps you ( the business) declare your sales which makes it easy to file a return and little or no assessment from URA is done due to the presence of shared information from the EFRIS system.”

Uganda’s tax to GDP is now at 14%, which Musinguzi says, is very low. For the developed world they are above 30%.

“The challenge we have at hand is for all of us to think about self-sufficiency. Can we internally mobilize enough revenue to support our budget? That should be everyone’s question,” he said, adding that URA only contributes about 52% of the country’s national budget at the moment.

“I think it is time to mobilize our resources internally to cater to our needs due to the shrinking sources of money externally,” said Musinguzi.

He noted that Government has been deliberate in the last three years not to introduce any new taxes so as to allow businesses pick up after COVID.

“But now we are saying let’s widen the tax base with these new tax proposals,” he said.

Musinguzi also said URA is engages taxpayers to ensure compliance.

“I want to tell you that agency notices are a final tool of enforcement and all our staff know this. We don’t use it as a first line of engagement but as a last resort,” said Musinguzi.

Taddewo William Senyonyi
William is a seasoned business and finance journalist. He is also an agripreneur and a coffee enthusiast.

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