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Landlords, traders in Kalungu protest new tax assessment

Kalungu, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Landlords and traders in Kalungu town council are up in arms against the new property rates and business licenses issued by the authorities. Recently, the Uganda Revenue Authority-URA and Kalungu town council conducted an evaluation of commercial buildings and businesses to determine new property rates and trading licenses.

According to the new evaluation roll, the levies were increased depending on the size of the business and the location of the commercial buildings. This has sparked protests from landlords and traders who recieved invoices requiring them to pay the taxes in two weeks-time.

Hassan Katongole, the Chairperson of property owners in Kalungu town council, who owns a commercial building on Lukerere road argues the assessments were unfair and imposed onto them exorbitant taxes they cannot afford.

According to Katongole, the new assessment effects increments of about 40% tax, something he says is abnormal given the economic hardships they are already faced with.

Katongole demands that besides rescinding the new assessments, the town council should abolish the 60,000 Shillings annual health inspection fees levied on traders, arguing that it is irrelevant.

Mathias Kazibwe, who owns a retail shop olong Kalungu main road, says that he has been paying 160,000 Shillings in annual license fees, which was raised to 240,000 Shillings.

He says that his business is also already subject to other direct taxes on top of the utility bills, and operation costs.  Kazibwe says that any increment will lead to the collapse of his business. He blames the tax evaluation teams for basing their assessment on guesswork hence arriving at ridiculous charges that they cannot afford.

But John Baptist Lugemwa, the Senior Assistant Town Clerk of Kalungu town council has also blamed the landlords and traders for being invasive during the assessment period, which prompted their team to base their evaluations on assumptions. He has advised the discontented businessmen to file appeals to his office with evidence about their incomes for possible revaluation of their tax obligations.

John Kiragga, the Kalungu town council LC III chairperson says that to harmonize the situation, they will ask the town clerk’s office to organize a sensitization meeting for traders and landlords such that they listen to each other.

Property rate is a tax charged on immovable assets such as buildings and other commercially managed premises that include schools, rented houses and shops, hotels, factories, and all others that are used for business purposes even if it is occupied by the owner. Apparently, trading licenses and property rates are one of the major sources of taxes in local government.

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