The Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) has widened the tax base by expanding the taxpayers’ register.
Speaking during the half-year revenue press conference for FY 2022-23 July-December period, the the URA Commissioner General, John Musinguzi Rujoki, said at least 449,975 new taxpayers have been added to the taxpayer register representing a growth of 17.19% against a targeted growth of 8.50%.
Rujoki said that by December 31, 2022, the taxpayer register had 3,067,983 taxpayers. Of these, 180,486 were non-individuals and 2,887,497 were individual taxpayers.
He attributed the registration performance to key initiatives like tax education and sensitization, Taxpayer Register Expansion Program (TREP), Analysis of Data, stakeholder engagements and usage of the Tujenge Uganda mobile tax offices to reach taxpayers.
According to the World bank, Uganda’s tax system is one of the most modern in the region but revenue collections by 2018 were at 14 percent of GDP, way below its tax potential.
Tax avoidance and evasion partly resulting from generous tax exemptions to investors, weak tax administration, and a large informal sector (now at 80 percent), posed challenges to increasing revenues.
It suggested that Uganda could widen its tax base by tapping into areas that are outside the tax net; applying tax instruments correctly and fairly; improving efficiency, transparency and accountability in tax administration; and delivering better public services.
The report further recommended strengthening the capacity of tax institutions, particularly the Uganda Revenue Authority as well as local governments to enhance own source revenue.
Last week, while debating the National Budget Framework for FY 2023-24, Hon Muwanga Kivumbi noted that government could be losing well up to Shs8 trillion in tax exemptions, which he said makes no sense in light of budgeting constraints occasioned by pressures on the national resource envelope.
“We have almost Shs8 trillion in tax exemptions; we have just highlighted a few; others are getting corporation tax holidays, which are taxes on profits…they come here, they get free electricity and land, and then they do not pay tax,” he said.
The Shadow Minister listed some entities against the proposed exemptions they are to get which totaled to Shs588 billion, a figure he said should be collected to finance the budget.