Business
URA to tax government at source
Publish Date: Apr 13, 2014
URA to tax government at source
Keith Mukahanizi, the finance ministry permanent secretary.
  • mail
  • img
newvision

By Samuel Sanya

IN the recent past, teachers and nurses have laid down tools demanding higher pay. Each time this happened, the Government was quick to point to lack of resources. However, it turns out that government departments have a lot to do with the lack of funds.

In September 2013, when James Tweheyo, the general secretary of the Uganda National Teachers Union, led a nationwide teacher strike for a 20% pay rise, government ministries, departments and agencies were unlawfully holding sh131b in unpaid taxes.

This represents 77% of all unpaid taxes and close to 1.3% of the total amount of taxes that the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) is meant to collect for the national coffers.

The Auditor General’s report for the financial year 2012/13 notes that the amount of unpaid taxes by government departments was sh31b at the end of June 2013.

The eventual sh131b in September was a result of 13 government ministries not remitting Value Added Taxes, Pay-As-You-Earn and Withholding tax. At the time, the National ID project alone, under the internal affairs ministries, was holding sh40b in unpaid taxes.

The Government has approximately 88 ministries, departments and agencies. While most only receive money from fees for services and from budget allocations, some such as the Uganda Electricity Transmission Company Limited and local government engage in business.

Waiswa Abudu Sallam, the URA debt collection manager, says tax collection projections include the private sector and government.

“When government agencies fail to remit taxes, it affects service delivery. It also makes it hard to hit our targets,” he says.

The URA has a tax collection target of sh10.5 trillion. To date, the annual tax collections are off target by about sh270b, partly due to non-remission of taxes from government departments.

He explained that government institutions are meant to collect 6% withholding tax on service contractors that are paid more than sh1m. Additionally, government workers are charged a PAYE tax.

A third tax, VAT, is collected by government departments whenever they charge for services. But Sallam notes that not all government departments have been diligent in remitting the taxes after they are collected.

New policies to limit tax arrears

All payments to government ministries, departments and agencies are now being channeled through the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) in efforts to cut public sector corruption and increase tax collections.

Payments of police fines, court fines, passport fees and other non-tax revenue have to be done through commercial banks.

An electronic system alerts the URA and the respective recipient government agency the moment the bank acknowledges payment.

A pilot project of the new system in the internal affairs ministries resulted in a 300% improvement in non-tax revenue collections according to Simon Ngabirano, a URA service support officer.

Henry Saka, the URA commissioner domestic taxes, noted that the system cut reconciliation time between the URA and government departments to two days from three months. The error rate also fell to 0.01%.

Non tax revenues have gradually grown to sh130b in the financial year 2012/13, from sh124b four years ago. This year, URA intends to collect about sh274b in non-tax revenues.

While releasing funds to government department for the months of April to June 2014, Keith Mukahanizi, the finance ministry permanent secretary, noted that there are proposals to withhold the tax obligations of the departments and remit them directly to the URA.

“If the proposals are successful, the amount of tax arrears owed to the URA by government agencies will drop,” Sallam says.

The statements, comments, or opinions expressed through the use of New Vision Online are those of their respective authors, who are solely responsible for them, and do not necessarily represent the views held by the staff and management of New Vision Online.

New Vision Online reserves the right to moderate, publish or delete a post without warning or consultation with the author.Find out why we moderate comments. For any questions please contact digital@newvision.co.ug

  • mail
  • img
blog comments powered by Disqus
Also In This Section
Inflation rises to 1.4%
Consumers paid sh1.4 more for manufactured goods in October compared to the same period in 2013 as the sector struggled to recover from the lag-effects of the 2011 economic challenges, amid volatilities in foreign exchange....
Kukustar: New vaccine against newcastle to empower farmers
It was the welcoming smiles. Not the long distance from Mbale town. Not the shrubby path to Mary Goretti Mboizi’s humble home in Bunamwera village, Kibuku district that struck me as I settled down to listen to her story....
Uganda is debt sustainable, says finance ministry
By March, China had lent Uganda over $336m (8% of the total debt) while India had lent over $50m (under 2%)....
Partnership seeks to boost television penetration
PCS and a regional pay television service provider enter a partnership expected to boost television penetration in areas without access to hydroelectricity....
Govt allocates sh20b for restocking
THE Government has allocated sh20b for livestock restocking in West Nile, Acholi, Lango and Teso sub-regions in the 2014/15 financial year...
Power extended to Masaka sub-counties
The sub-counties benefiting from the project are Kyesiga, Lwankoni, Kyanamukaka and Kabira with a total population of about 60,000 people...
Do you agree with the ban on the export of maids?
Yes
No
Can't Say
follow us
subscribe to our news letter