Private schools decry high taxes

By Emmanuel Luganda

They asked government to adopt the Income Tax Act, sec; 2 which provides exemption of taxes to organizations like religious charity organizations

Private school owners have slammed the high taxes levied on private schools by government.

Private school owners through their umbrella body, National Private Educational Institutions Association-Uganda (NPEIAU), raised their concerns to the Minister for Kampala, Beti Kamya, at a thanksgiving ceremony that was held for her on Friday at Good Times Primary School, Kawaala in Kawempe Division.

Led by their chairman, Benedict Ssazi, the school owners complained of the ever increasing central and local government taxes that are levied on private educational services.

Ssazi revealed that on top of the compulsory tax payable by any eligible individual, private schools are required to pay various taxes like trading license, property rates, educational services, occupational tax and many more which affect the quality of education in the country.

"The list is expected to grow even longer as various entities with tenders are expected to come up with other forms of taxes" Ssazi revealed.

NPEIAU researcher Kirabia Hasadu said some taxes levied on private schools lack satisfactory legal basis while others are meant for traders.

"Some taxes contradict with the educational Act. 2008" Hasadu revealed.

Hasadu urged government to scrap taxes on private schools claiming that private school structures and income are used solely for educational purposes.

Ronald Mpagi, the director of Good Times Primary School, asked government to adopt the Income Tax Act, sec; 2 which provides exemption of taxes to organizations like religious charity organizations, as well as public educational institutions.

However, the same sec. 2 stipulates that for a school to be exempted from taxes it should be declared a public institution.

It should be noted that no taxes or charges are imposed on government schools which operate in the same environment with private schools.

Out of three thousand schools in Kampala, only 79 are public while 2921 are private schools.

The private school teachers also asked Kamya to lobby funds for their SACCO which has over three hundred members.

In response, Kamya pledged to work with the stakeholders to scrap taxes from private schools since they are offering a public service not business oriented venture.

 "We have to change the mind-set of the tax collectors about private schools. They should not regard the schools as money minting business but a public service," Kamya noted.

She added that she will work with Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) and the President to get funding of the teachers' SACCO.

Kamya urged teachers to participate in other government programs like NAADS, Operation Wealth Creation and other developmental programs.

Kamya thanked private school owners for holding a congratulatory ceremony before she was given several gifts.