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CSOs want list of companies exempted from taxation published

FILE PHOTO: CSBAG ED, Julius Mukunda

Kampala, Uganda  | THE INDEPENDENT | Civil society Organisations (CSOs) are asking government to publish a list of all companies that are exempted from taxes.

During a press conference held on Sunday, Julius Mukunda, the Executive Director of the Civil Society Budget Advocacy Group (CSBAG) said the failure by Uganda Revenue Authority-URA even with recent innovations in tax administration to hit their collections is partly due to tax incentives that are harmful to the economy.

In a recent update, URA reported that with the changes made to section 21(1) of the income tax act introducing income tax exemptions for selected strategic investments, they anticipate to forego about 500 billion shillings in tax revenue this financial year.

In addition to this, in the period of July to December 2019, the tax waiver on imported brown husked rice led to revenue foregone of $5.8million.

Because of this, Mukunda said that government needs to be keen on scrutinizing tax exemptions and only grant those that are not harmful to the economy. However, he notes that while slashing out unnecessary waivers and establishing other revenue leakages would have been easy with the current digitalization of taxation, Mukunda said URA is challenged by the fact that some government agencies withhold vital information from the tax body.

Julius Kapwepwe of the Uganda Debt Network said recently URA is being challenged to look for other revenue sources. To him, this will not work to enable them hit targets if they have failed to mobilize what is currently available.

Regina Navuga, a Trade and Taxation Expert at the Southern and Eastern Africa Trade Information and Negotiations Institute (SEATINI), a study done by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) last year has already highlighted what Uganda’s tax problems are and that how much they push to hit targets without reviewing where they have gone wrong.

However, even as these challenges as noted by CSOs exist, URA has recorded a growth in revenue whereby collections increased by 24.4% to Shs20, 344.13billion in FY2019/ 2020 from Shs16, 358.75billion in 2018/2019.

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