Mildred Namudde, a teacher of Lubiri Secondary School, Kampala says the incidence of tax collectors arresting students for graduated tax is high in Kampala because many students do not move with their identification cards.
â€œOne student said tax collectors found them walking in a group and ordered them to panda gari. They explained that they were students in vain. When they suggested that one of them collects their identification cards, the tax collectors refused,â€ Namudde says.
She says parents are the ones usually involved in bailing out students arrested by tax collectors. She says students should wear uniforms during school time to avoid problems with tax collectors.
However, Patricia Kwaga, Kampala City Council public relations officer, says the 1997 Local Governments Act exempts students from paying graduated tax. â€œA student with an identification card should not be arrested. Even so, it is unlawful to harass graduated tax defaulters or any suspected criminal. But some graduates, who are still looking for jobs are also considered as students because they use their old identity cards,â€ she says.
Kwaga says only 30% of youths in Kampala are in school. She, however, says some students incite tax collectors and advise young people to desist from being aggressive to avoid confrontation with tax collectors.
â€œIf you explain that you have left your identification card somewhere, they warn you and let you go,â€ she says.
Yasin Kironde, a student at Islamic University in Uganda says, â€œI didnâ€™t know that students were exempted from graduated tax. When I was arrested, I paid with my pocket money, but on release, I had lost my shoes and wallet.
â€œThe tax should be scrapped because tax collectors treat people inhumanely. They really demean people. They beat you and hold you jerk (lifting you by the trouser).â€
Kwaga says students who engage in income-generating activities to raise school fees are still treated as students and are, therefore, exempted from paying graduated tax. They are, however, not exempted from other taxes.
â€œWe have not had cases where out-of-school youths forge student identification cards to dodge graduated tax. Really, it is a very minimal fee paid once a year. The minimum in Kampala is sh6,000. For other districts it is sh3,000,â€ she says.
What the law says on graduated tax and students