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AKOL: Plan for taxes from the start of your business

Akol was guest speaker at the Bukedde business forum dubbed Yiiyasente
Akol was guest speaker at the Bukedde business forum dubbed Yiiyasente

Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) Commissioner General Doris Akol has encouraged entrepreneurs and businesses to not only plan for marketing, rent, wages and transport costs, but also taxes, that eventually determine the survival of their enterprise.

“Businesses need to start looking at tax as another cost of operation. My advice to business start-ups is always consider tax in the equation,” Akol said. She also encouraged those still in the informal sector to register their businesses, as that gives it a foundation to survive beyond its founder.

“If you assess and project in the long-term life of a business, and you realize that the venture would not leave you a profit if you pay taxes, ask yourself if that is actually a viable business,” Akol told hundreds of business people and teams of start-ups in Kampala. She warned they must also take it into account that the first years of a business may not return a profit at all.

Akol was speaking at the business forum dubbed Yiiyassente on Saturday. The quarterly forum is organised by Vision Group’s leading media brand Bukedde.

Register your business

She said, for companies that plan to trade with government bodies, or go international, having a properly registered tax paying business, is a must and will ensure success.

Registering businesses, she told the gathering, does not only protect the enterprise but also makes it easy for one to access financing in form of bank loans and also compete for the many government business opportunities like the supply goods and services to institutions like URA.

“Tax is a very important factor for any business which for international corporations determines where, when, how, and why operations should not be in country A but country B. We need to realize the importance of this,” she said.

Ako said government actually has great interest in the survival of all businesses, and that is why it encourages them to have their books in order and run professionally.

“You could be having an inner voice telling you that dealing with government means paying the trading license and taxes by URA. But this I tell you fellow businessmen, it is in government’s best interests that your business thrives. Why? If your business collapses, then government cannot collect taxes or trading licenses which are its source of revenue.”

Akol noted that she was particularly keen to help as her fellow women make up over 52% of Uganda’s private enterprise group

“As a Commissioner General I am happy to support this initiative because it breeds the businesses that shall pay taxes in the future,” she said.

She said that much more than salary from a job, “business is the one source of income where you determine your earnings. Your acumen, hard-work, connections and effort determine what you take home.”

She hailed the Yiiyassente platform for opening up opportunities for whoever is keen. “Here a farmer is seated next to a restaurant operator, a parent is seated next to a school owner or teacher, a mechanic is seated next to a boda-boda operator, a builder is seated to a potential customer.”

Entrepreneurs were encouraged to also think long term and invest for the future generations, narrating a story an Asian businessman told her. “Ugandans think the money they have is theirs, for us, we think it is for our kids to come,” the Asian told her.

Akol said URA is a partner that should always be consulted. “Ask them if there are any tax benefits for your business, you will be surprised. Do you want to export? Do you know that you get tax refunds when you take goods to Rwanda, Kenya, South Sudan or any other country?”

She revealed URA can advise on the benefits for farming business – horticulture and greenhouses, farm works, instalment payments for taxes, carryforward losses, start-up costs, scientific research expenditure, training costs available for businesses.


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