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You're not so special, you must pay taxes, MPs told

By Edward Kayiwa

Added 26th April 2016 08:06 AM

“The principal of taxation is equity and this is even known by secondary schools students. It is discomforting therefore, that members of parliament think of themselves as too important to pay taxes, even against known economic principals such as this"

You're not so special, you must pay taxes, MPs told

Keith Muhakanizi, Secretary to the treasury

“The principal of taxation is equity and this is even known by secondary schools students. It is discomforting therefore, that members of parliament think of themselves as too important to pay taxes, even against known economic principals such as this"

Secretary to the treasury, Keith Muhakanizi has blasted members of parliament for their recent proposal to exempt their allowances from taxation.

The proposal was tabled on Thursday by Rubanda West Member of Parliament, Henry Musaasizi, as the house passed the Income Tax (Amendment) Bill 2016.

The proposal, according to Muhakanizi, is likely to hemorrhage URA collections by at least sh41.58b annually, if President Museveni assents to the Income Tax (Amendment) Bill 2016, which also exempts parliamentarians' emoluments from taxation.

"The principal of taxation is equity and this is even known by secondary schools students. It is discomforting therefore, that members of parliament think of themselves as too important to pay taxes, even against known economic principals such as this," he said.

Muhakanizi was addressing journalists during the budget quarterly release at the finance board room in Kampala on Monday.

He said: "If teachers and other civil servants are paying taxes, even MPs must pay. We can't have one group considering themselves more superior than all citizens contributing to the treasury, and as such everyone in both the private and public sector must pay taxes."

During the passing of the bill, the legislators overwhelmingly agreed to the exemptions within seconds after Speaker, Rebecca Kadaga had put the question to the House.

Tororo Woman MP, also Minister of State for Primary Health Care, Sarah Opendi stood as the lone voice against the amendment.

The development comes barely two months after Justice Henry Adonyo ,of the Commercial Court, ordered that MPs' allowances, including mileage and constituency allowances, sitting allowances for committee sessions, town running allowances, basic pay and car purchase allowances, among others be taxed.

Adonyo's order was centered on petition to the court by Francis Byamugisha, a concerned citizen, arguing that not taxing MPs' allowances caused a deficit in tax collections.

However, the MPs through the Parliamentary Commission, filed a notice of intention to appeal against the court order.

The Civil Society Budget Advocacy Group executive director, Julius Mukunda said the money can help the government address some of the most pressing needs in sectors such as the health, education, and agriculture.

"We are waiting to see if the president will assent to the proposal that elevates MPs to super citizens of this country," he said.

 

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